What is the Queensbury Boxing League? It’s not professional boxing as we know it but it’s certainly not some form of an underground fight club either. Since the League was formed by Alan Foley and former pro fighter Ross Minter in 2010, it has provided boxers of all levels the chance to compete on a regular basis.
More and more fighters are approaching the League which is helping it gain momentum as it heads into its fourth year. The League's profile and popularity has also been helped along by the regular TV coverage on Eurosport.
You won't find ‘promoting small hall boxing shows’ in the get rich quick guide so Alan and Ross were looking for something different to base their business model on. They wanted to provide boxing fans with evenly matched, exciting fights between hungry fighters. And that’s how the League was founded.
BoxRec News caught up with the director Alan Foley to discuss the Queensbury Boxing League. “Ross had retired from boxing and I am a huge boxing fan. We were going to a lot of shows, most were professional shows and some unlicensed shows but we just found they were so badly organised and lacked any real excitement.
"Ross was training a lot of fighters who wanted to fight, but weren’t sure about turning professional and didn’t want to head into the murky world of unlicensed fights.
“That’s when we came up with the idea of the league. We said we would come up with a platform for guys who know they are being looked after. It will offer them a place where they can fight against an opponent of equal ability on a stage that gives them an opportunity to showcase their talents.”
The guys must be doing something right as the League continues to grow in stature year on year. The progress has obviously benefited from the TV coverage and sponsorship of many companies including Lonsdale. But Alan feels it’s the fighters that should take a lot of the credit for the League's success to date.
“We are really, really happy with how things have progressed. The standard of the boxers who are coming in is always improving. We are trying to build up the personalities within the league so people get to know them, if you know about the fighters background you can get to know them and relate to them.
“From having the idea in our head thinking what we wanted to achieve it has gone over and above what we expected. Especially with the TV coverage on Eurosport . I would say where we are now is maybe a year ahead of where we thought we would be.”
Match making is one of the most underrated jobs behind the scenes in boxing and if not done right, can ruin a fighter's career. Ross takes full responsibility for the League's matchmaking. Alan goes on to explain how Ross puts the matches together.
“The League is separated into different skill levels to keep the fights even. You have the novice category which is for guys that are just starting out and have had no amateur experience at all. Then we have what we call a ‘Southern area level’ which we want to rename soon. Then you have the ‘English’ and then the top championship level which we call the ‘British’. [N.B. Ed. - My main gripes with the concept, from what I've seen, is the standard of competitors and the similar nomenclature between these and BBBoC titles. Casual fans have enough trouble following the fractured nature of the professional game with its surfeit of titles and many might equate these belts with the 'proper' ones. Despite the positive observations from those involved here, both competitors in an 'English' title fight I recently witnessed would have been comfortably handled by a very low level pro.)
“Every boxer is individually viewed by Ross, he goes to gyms all over the country to see fighters first hand. We also have open trial sessions where boxers come to us with their trainers and we watch them spar to assess what their skill levels are. This way we make our own decisions regarding matching the fighters and are not reliant on paper records.
“After watching the lads spar, Ross takes notes on all the fighters and then goes away and finds fighters of similar experience and similar skill levels and works on matching them. Obviously they are also matched according to weight.
“As you now know the League is open to all comers, any fighter of any level can get the opportunity to take part. At novice level the fights can be scheduled over as little as 3 x 2’s which is half the time a professional debutant would fight over (four-twos is available under BBBoC rules - Ed.). Shorter fights can make the League more appealing to a boxer who has work and family commitments that still wants to fight but doesn’t feel they can dedicate themselves 100% to turning professional.
“When we first started out our boxers were really quite raw. Its all about levels, at the novice end of the League some of the guys wouldn’t hold their own against established amateur boxers. But is really doesn’t matter as they get to fight guys with the same technical ability in their category.
“At the top end of the League we have a whole crop of fighters who have the ability to live with professionals as they spar with pro fighters week in week out. Gareth Gardener is one of our champions, he was a former England amateur international who could easily turn pro.”
Fighters turning pro have to learn the ropes and will be matched against a few journeymen in their early contests, that’s just the way pro boxing works. But boxing fans patience will wear thin watching prospect vs. journeyman too often. This is why Alan thinks the League provides excitement from day one as novice fighters are matched against other novices in an even contest.
“In the Queensbury Boxing League you have two boxers going into the fight with the same desire and hunger to win the contest. They are both going into the bout to win, none of our boxers are fighting to get a pay day or to give a young prospect rounds. When you have got that combination you get an explosive and exciting fight.”
Alan and Ross have huge plans to push the League forward in 2013. “We are looking to do eight televised events on Eurosport next year. We have lots and lots of TV interest from all over the world including America, Europe and the Far East. We want to take the next step and expand the League which will see us concentrate on raising the profile of our boxers.”
Any fight fans interested will be able to tune into the League's first televised show of 2013 live on Eurosport on March 16th.