By Duncan Mackay in Lausanne

British LionheartsJuly 1 - The British Lionhearts will not compete in the next season of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) because of the row between the Home Countries about who runs the sport in the United Kingdom, it was announced here today. 


The decision was taken by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) on the eve of the World WSB Season IV official draw, which is due to take place here tomorrow.

It follows a controversial period for the British Amateur Boxing Association (BABA) which saw Derek Mapp forced to resign as chairman following dissent from Amateur Boxing Scotland (ABS) and the Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE).

An uneasy truce has since been negotiated by UK Sport, the Government agency in charge of distributing National Lottery funding, which has ensured that the BABA will continue to receive £10.4 million ($17.9 million/€12.8 million) to help British boxers prepare for Rio 2016. 

But Team GB boxers will now be denied the opportunity to qualify for Rio 2016 through the WSB system as part of a British system after it appeared that the AIBA lost patience with the political situation in the country.

A total of 30 places are available for Rio 2016 through the WSB, which allows boxers to compete professionally while retaining their eligibility for the Olympics.

British Lionhearts posterThere was plenty of hype about theLionhearts debut season but AIBA have decided they are not prepared to continue backing the franchise when the political situation is so fragile

insidethegames understands that the Lionhearts received £1.8 million ($2.7 million/€2.1 million) in funding from AIBA to support the franchise - a figure they were not willing to gamble again when the current situation in Britain is so fragile. 

"As agreed last season in order to protect the best interests of British boxers following an outstanding London 2012 Olympic Games, AIBA/WSB had put an important investment into the WSB franchise British Lionhearts, without any return from the Home Nations or the British Amateur Boxing Association (BABA)," a statement from AIBA said. 

"However since a few weeks, AIBA/WSB have been greatly disappointed to witness some political conflicts amongst the Home Nations and have thus decided to withdraw the participation of the WSB British franchise until the situation is cleared.

"AIBA is currently in the process of investigating these issues, especially within the Amateur Boxing Association of England and Amateur Boxing Scotland."

John Joe Nevin fighting for British LionheartsIreland's John Joe Nevin of British Lionhearts (left) in action against Daouda Sow of USA Knockouts during the WSB match at the York Hall in London

The Lionhearts reched the quarter-finals of the WSB in their debut season, before being knocked out by the Mexico Guerreros.

Matt Archibald, the Lionhearts general manager, had quit last month to take up a new role as Performance Advisor at UK Sport.

A spokesman for the AIBA told insidethegames that they are committed to finding spots on other franchises for the 19 boxers who represented the Lionhearts last year and want to continue in the programme.

These include Welsh pair, the double European flyweight champion Andrew Selby and Olympic welterweight silver medallist Fred Evans, and Ireland's London 2012 lightweight runner-up John Joe Nevin.

"We have been in discussions with World Series Boxing and have come to the agreement that there will not be a British franchise in the next series of WSB which begins towards the end of 2013," said a spokesman for the BABA.

"We are very supportive of the World Series of Boxing and felt that the participation of the British Lionhearts in last season's competition was a great showcase for the sport and a good experience for our boxers however as a largely publicly funded organisation, the BABA is not in a position to underwrite the costs or take-on the financial risks of running a British franchise."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]nsidethegames.biz


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