By Tom Degun in Baku

liz_nicholl_27-09-22September 27 - Liz Nicholl (pictured), the chief executive UK Sport, has praised the transformation in Britain's Olympic boxing programme and has predicted that there will be further medal winning performances in 2012 as the fighters gear up for the London Olympics next year.

The endorsement comes as a team of 12 men from the GB Boxing squad compete in the 2011 AIBA World Championships here in Azerbaijan, which is the first major qualifying event for the 2012 Olympic Games.

In 2011, the men's GB Boxing squad have so far secured 33 medals in nine elite international competitions including a hugely successful European Championships in June when they returned with two gold medals, a silver and a bronze.

"It has been a terrific 12 months for amateur boxing and a very different story to the aftermath of Beijing," said Nicholl in the British Amateur Boxing Association's (BABA) newly published Annual Review 2010-11.

"Back in 2008, a successful Olympic Performance in the ring was at risk of being undermined by failures outside of it and led UK Sport to challenge amateur boxing to reorganise its administration.

"The success we have seen is, in no small measure, down to the fine work that Derek Mapp and his team have done to make the BABA a world class organisation, inside and outside the ring.

"There are a lot of lessons that can be learned from the transformation in amateur boxing."

Part of the move saw the respected Mark Abberley take over from Paul King (pictured) as ABAE chief executive after King had caused a major falling out with AIBA after a catastrophic run for presidency of the world governing body.

Abberley, who is currently here in Baku for the World Championships, has helped build bridges with current AIBA President C K Wu who told insidethegames that he is "very impressed" with the new chief executive.

The Review also includes a positive endorsement from the Minister for Sport and the Olympics Hugh Robertson who declared himself "hugely impressed with the depth and breadth of the BABA's set up" after a visit to its training facility in Sheffield in July 2010.

The Review was published this week and highlights the BABA's achievements, inside and outside of the ring, from April 1, 2010 until March 31, 2011.

During this time, boxers from the male and female squads won 27 medals at seven international competitions, including three silver medals and two bronze at the June 2010 European Championships in Moscow and two silvers at the women's World Championships in September 2010.

The performances have seen Britain become recognised as one of the emerging forces in world amateur boxing under the leadership of performance director Rob McCracken who was nominated for the award of High Performance Coach of the Year by sports coach UK in November 2010.

"Back in the nineties when I boxed internationally, a British amateur would occasionally win a tournament but it was unheard of for a Great Britain team to consistently match the performances of the strongest boxing nations in Europe," said McCracken.

"Yet at the start of 2011, we sent teams to face the world's top countries at tournaments in Turkey, Bulgaria and Poland and came away with a handful of medals and 'Boxer of the Tournament' awards."

Outside of the ring, the BABA has enjoyed a string of successes and made significant progress towards creating an environment that will deliver long term success and contribute to the sustainability of amateur boxing in Great Britain.

In May 2010, the BABA agreed a three-year deal for Lucozade to become its official sports nutrition partner and over the course of the year it increased income from commercial activities by 150 per cent.

In March 2011, it took ownership of a block of seven flats that now provide accommodation for 19 boxers and coaches when they are training in Sheffield.

The BABA has also raised the profile of the sport and secured the return of domestic amateur boxing to terrestrial television when it agreed a three-year deal for the BBC to televise its newly created GB Amateur Boxing Championships.

"We have made substantial progress," said Mapp.

"None of it would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our employees, coaches and boxers or the continued support of UK Sport and the boards of the Amateur Boxing Associations of England, Scotland and Wales.

"I am more confident than ever that we have everything in place to deliver lasting success and make a significant contribution to the long-term sustainability of amateur boxing in Great Britain."

A full copy of the BABA's Annual Review is available by clicking here.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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