Boxing takes a hit
BOXING on the Far North Coast is in turmoil after Boxing Australia delivered a knockout punch to the sport’s governing body in NSW.
The move to disaffiliate Boxing NSW and its administration, headed by controversial Arthur Tunstall, was orchestrated at a special meeting held in conjunction with Boxing Australia’s annual general meeting in Canberra at the weekend.
The swift action to axe Tunstall’s group came on the heels of recommendations of a Boxing Australia judicial enquiry and complaints from the Amateur Boxing League and concerned amateur boxing participants.
The demise of Boxing NSW brings to a close a faction feud between the two governing bodies that has been playing havoc with the sport in NSW for more than two decades.
The Boxing League and Tunstall’s now defunct Boxing NSW group have been at each other’s throat since the breakaway league group was formed 24 years ago.
The league, headed by Ballina’s Dennis Magnay, now looks set to take over the reins of boxing in NSW.
There are also rumours the rift with Boxing Australia could spread to boxing in Queensland.
The weekend’s disaffiliation left no lifebouys for Boxing NSW, immediately cancelling its permit to run fights in the State, severed all government funding to help run the sport and withdrew its options to be formally recognised by the Commonwealth Games organisation and the Olympic Games committee.
It has literally brought Boxing NSW to its knees.
On the Far North Coast the axing will have huge ramifications on Boxing NSW-affiliated clubs in Murwillumbah, Lismore, Ballina, Casino and Grafton.
For the time being boxing in NSW is in limbo, with the swiftness of the weekend’s action leaving clubs no choice but to stop operating for legal, financial and administrative reasons.
But as quickly as it severed ties with Boxing NSW, Boxing Australia has set up a new Boxing Australia (NSW) association to try and pick up the pieces.
It is anticipated details of the new association will be detailed this week with general membership and committee applications being called before its first annual general meeting in early March.
It has also made hasty rearrangements to allow NSW boxers and coaches to participate in the 2009 Australian championships from tomorrow until Sunday, although they are no longer registered with a Boxing Australia member association.
A lot of trouble with the alleged dysfunctional Boxing NSW group had stemmed from the controversial actions of its chief administrator, Tunstall, who has been dictating boxing operations at State, national and international levels for the best part of six decades.
Magnay and his Boxing League group have been among the 88-year-old’s most damning critics.
That criticism hit new heights three years ago when English journalists lambasted Tunstall after his attack on champion Australian athlete Cathy Freeman and for his criticisms about the Paralympic Games.
Other criticisms followed about alleged racist jokes made by Tunstall and the attack consequently spread to Australia.
Soon after Boxing Australia launched a taskforce to delve into Tunstall’s alleged antics and his running of the sport.
That task force was headed by Dennis Magnay, who also doubles as the secretary-treasurer of the NSW Boxing League and the national secretary of the Australian Amateur Boxing League.
According to Magnay the situation came to a head at a two-day inquiry in Sydney three months ago when allegedly ‘hundreds of complaints against Tunstall were investigated’.
“I make no apologies for hammering the hell out of Tunstall,” Magnay said yesterday.
“We have made him and his association the centre of our campaign for the last three years.
“He has been a controversial boxing figure for far too many reasons and has dictated the running of the sport for far too long at far too many levels.
“His organised constitution was undemocratic and it protected him for all those years.
“No wonder the sport is in such a mess and Boxing Australia really had no room to move anywhere but disaffiliate Boxing NSW.
“We are now confident our league boxers will get a fair go to qualify for the Commonwealth Games,” he said.