Gloves are off in MSP’s Twit­ter row over box­ing

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Will Hen­shaw

Ruther­glen MSP James Kelly be­came in­volved in a Twit­ter row with Labour Party mem­ber Michael Kelly over the safety of box­ing.

James tweeted a pic­ture of our front page last week, where we re­ported that Durie’s Box­ing Club, who hail from Ruther­glen, had been saved from fi­nan­cial melt­down.

How­ever in re­sponse to the tweet, for­mer Celtic board mem­ber Michael Kelly re­sponded with “does Ruther­glen re­ally need more brain dam­age?”.

What en­sued was an ar­gu­ment be­tween the two on the safety of the sport, which con­cluded with Mr Kelly call­ing on lo­cal box­ing clubs to be shut down.

James said: “What Michael Kelly needs to re­alise is that lo­cal box­ing clubs play an im­por­tant role in coach­ing young­sters in a safe en­vi­ron­ment that teaches them good dis­ci­pline and keeps them fit. I have been to Duries in Ruther­glen and O’Neils at the West­burn Hall and ad­mire the work and the hours that the vol­un­teer coaches put in.

“In any con­tact sport, there is a risk. Box­ing has tight­ened its reg­u­la­tions in re­cent years to min­imise these risks. Michael’s ap­proach would drive these clubs out of ex­is­tence and then the many young­sters would be left on the streets would no fo­cus. I am cer­tainly not pre­pared to see that hap­pen in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang.”

Michael Kelly said: “Any sport where there are blows to the head risk brain dam­age.

“I have al­ways been against it and will aways cam­paign for its abo­li­tion, whether it’s am­a­teur or pro­fes­sional.

“I am all for young­sters be­ing ac­tive and get­ting ex­er­cise in the com­mu­nity. A bet­ter al­ter­na­tively are the Ja­panese mar­tial arts of Karate, TaeK­wonDo and Judo where there is a much less risk of a blow to the head.”

Coach of the club in ques­tion Archie Durie said that the de­ci­sion to re­move head guards from the sport in 2013 made fights safer. The As­so­ci­a­tion In­ter­na­tionale de Boxe Am­a­teur’s (AIBA) came to the de­ci­sion to re­move head­guards from se­nior bouts in men’s box­ing af­ter two sep­a­rate stud­ies pro­vided ev­i­dence that the re­moval will de­crease con­cus­sions.

Archie added: “No sport is 100 per cent safe. Whether it’s football or rugby, there is al­ways a chance some­one could get hurt. My box­ers are taught a skill, I teach them that box­ing is about not get­ting hurt, but try­ing to hurt your op­po­nent.”

Spat James Kelly and Michael Kelly dis­agree over the safety of box­ing

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