By Emily Goddard

charlotte_leslie__tom_stalker_30-06-111June 28 - Key boxing figures, including former world champion Barry McGuigan and members of Britain's Olympic squad joined the Minister for Sport and the Olympics Hugh Robertson and other MPs to launch the re-formed All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Boxing at a special reception in Westminster.

The MPs and boxers were joined by a host of people from grassroots and elite amateur boxing to celebrate the achievements of the sport, which consistently delivers medal success and increasing participation, as well as being widely regarded as a valuable tool in combating a host of social problems.

"In recent years, amateur boxing has emerged as one of Britain's most successful sports through its ability to increase grassroots participation, nurture talent and provide pathways for its most outstanding athletes," said Robertson.

"I know from visiting boxing clubs and seeing the pivotal role they play in their communities that in raising participation and developing talent, the sport is delivering across a range of social agendas and addressing issues such as knife crime, educational attainment and bullying."

In the last five years, boxing has made dramatic progress in education and the sport is now offered in 1,931 schools (34% of all secondary) compared to just 20 in 2005.

The Charter Academy in Portsmouth, a secondary school for 11 to 16-year-olds that also contributed to the launch, has been one of the schools at the forefront of this by integrating boxing into the curriculum,

In 2010, 16 Year 11 students passed the GCSE-equivalent ASDAN CoPE (Certificate of Personal Effectiveness) using boxing related tasks to gain credits towards the qualification and overall the school witnessed a significant decline in bullying.

Principal of Charter Academy Dame Sharon Hollows said: "The introduction of non-contact boxing to the Charter Academy has been fantastic and the sport has had a very positive impact on our students.

"On a practical level it has improved levels of fitness and helped students to learn about a healthy diet.

"It has also had a noticeable impact on student's confidence across a range of subjects and helped to bridge social and academic gaps within the school and led to the development of friendships between students who otherwise may not have mixed.

"It has been a new experience for the students but both the boys and girls are enjoying learning it along with other key skills such as working with others, problem solving, research, discussion and improving their own learning."

Other institutions that are driving the use of boxing to eliminate social problems also contributed to the launch and included The Filton College in Bristol, which runs a boxing based apprenticeship, and Islington Boxing Club, which has won awards for its' contribution to the local community.

Former world featherweight champion McGuigan added: "I know from my own experiences and the work I do now with young people, through my academies, that boxing delivers an enormous amount of good to society.

"It creates opportunities, provides people with a purpose and teaches them about life and the things they need to do to get on and succeed."

The launch was also supported by the British Amateur Boxing Association (BABA), which oversees the GB Boxing Olympic Programme, and was also attended by two of the medal winners, Tom Stalker and Charlie Edwards, from the team which landed two golds, one silver and a bronze at last week's European Amateur Boxing Championships in Turkey.

Rob McCracken, Performance Director at GB Boxing said: "We have a great set-up at GB Boxing and work with the very best amateur boxers, yet I am fully aware that we are only able to this because of the superb work of the club coaches and people in the national associations that develop and nurture talent from a young age and provide us in the GB set-up with such great material to work with."

The introduction of the new APPG comes the year before London hosts the 2012 Olympics, where female amateur boxers will compete for the first time, and is the brainchild of Bristol North West MP Charlotte Leslie, who is also a keen boxer.

"Boxing is a pulsatingly tangible example of The Big Society," explained Leslie, who has already signed-up 54 members.

"Amateur boxing clubs deliver huge benefits to people and communities up and down the country.

"They are run by thousands of volunteers that willingly give their time because they are passionate about the sport and the benefits it brings.

"The APPG aims to celebrate that, build on the best of what is going on and support these unsung heroes and those connected with the sport."

Read Alan Hubbard's exclusive blog for insidethegames on "Boxing for The Big Society" by clicking·here.

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