By Duncan Mackay

Steve Esom, former managing director of Waitrose, has been appointed as the new chairman of the British Amateur Boxing AssociationOctober 9 - Former retail boss Steven Esom has been appointed as the chairman of the British Amateur Boxing Association (BABA), which runs the country's world class performance programme for the Olympics, it was announced today.

The 52-year-old, who was formerly managing director of Waitrose, an upmarket chain of British supermarkets, will oversee the 12-person BABA Board and be responsible for the governance and overall leadership of the organisation.

He will also be in charge of the BABA's chief executive, Matthew Holt, who is responsible for the day-to-day leadership of the organisation, and be responsible for the direction and development of the organisation's relationships with key stakeholders.

Britain enjoyed an outstanding performance at last year's Olympics, finishing top of the medals table with a total of five medals, including three gold for Nicola Adams, Luke Campbell and Anthony Joshua. 

Nicola Adams was one of three British boxers to win Olympic gold medals at London 2012Nicola Adams was one of three British boxers to win Olympic gold medals at London 2012

But since the end of London 2012 the sport, particularly in England, has been riven by in-fighting which has threatened the funding which was the catalyst for last year's success.

Esom replaces Derek Mapp, who was forced out in June following an Extraordinary General Meeting  where England and Scotland voted for him to be axed. 

Last month Mapp's close ally, Richard Caborn, was forced to step down as chairman of the Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE) following pressure from the regions which make up the organisation.

Esom has been brought in to help steady the ship and ensure that Britain continues to steer in the right direction towards Rio 2016 under head coach Rob McCracken. 

"I am delighted to join the BABA at such an exciting time as we prepare for the 2016 campaign in Rio," he said. 

"I have been impressed with the team at the BABA, their professionalism and dedication focused upon the talented boxers we recruit into the world class performance programme.

"The BABA has set ambitious goals and is determined to build on the London 2012 achievements.

"I look forward to working with Matt Holt and Rob McCracken to achieve these along with the home nation Amateur Boxing Associations who are instrumental to our success.

"I am keen to start working with the Board and our wider stakeholders to build upon the BABA's successes and ensure it continues to ensure the interests of the boxers are at its heart."

Besides Waitrose, Esom was also previously executive director of food at Marks & Spencer and worked for the bookmaker Ladbrokes. 

He is currently chairman of the Ice Organisation, a UK loyalty scheme which promotes brands, goods and services that are more sustainable, with the aim of mitigating climate change through mass consumer purchase power, and the British Retail Consortium, a trade association for the UK retail industry.

One of Steve Esom's main tasks will be to ensure that British Boxing's head Rob McCracken is able to concentrate on preparing for Rio 2016 One of Steve Esom's main tasks will be to ensure that British Boxing's head Rob McCracken is able to concentrate on preparing for Rio 2016

The appointment of Esom, a graduate of the University of Wales, means that Richard Thomas will step down from the interim chairman's role he had undertaken since the departure of Mapp. 

"I firmly believe that Steven's approach will be one that will suit a unique organisation like the BABA," said Thomas.

"I believe he will quickly establish himself within the organisation and build consensus amongst the Board and our stakeholders.

"This will be key to building on the fantastic success of London 2012."

Esom's role will be unpaid and will initially last for four years with the option of a second term.

"The chairmanship of BABA is a crucial appointment for the future of British Boxing, and we are delighted that someone of Steven's calibre and experience is so willing and able to take on this important leadership role," said Liz Nicholl, chief executive of UK Sport, who had led the recruitment process.

"We look forward to working with Steven, the team at BABA and the home country boxing associations to ensure strong governance of the sport and to support boxers from Great Britain on their road to further medal success in Rio and beyond."

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