12th November 2011

Unlicensed Boxing, under ground boxing, white collar boxing, novice boxing, celebrity boxing. – What is the difference between these? 

The answer is Nothing! –  They are one and the same thing, boxing matches that are not under licence to the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) or any amateur associated body. 


This type of boxing seems to have become a culture in the UK and it is getting more popular. The thought that these spectacles are taking place in the cellar of a public house somewhere or in the shadows of some underworld dive in the back streets are far from the truth.
Kevin ‘Morris’Armstrong talks unregulated boxing

In reality these unlicensed shows sell out more so than some professionally promoted events and take place in the public domain, in popular Sports centres, halls and hotels around the country.

The combatants are not necessarily bruisers and vagabonds who are thrown in like fighting cocks and then dragged out, battered and bleeding. Although over the years and still there are the exceptions.

But modern day unlicensed boxing has evolved and now people from all walks of life take part in it, enjoy it and champion it as an alternative to the amateur and professional codes. 

Celebrities set up charity bouts and the public get behind them. It’s supported in the tabloid press and everyone laughs, it’s only a bit of fun and for a good cause.

Then the White Collar brigade roll out Paul from accounts and Steve from the warehouse to get it on, let off some steam and fulfill there ambitions, to try something they always wanted to do, box. But these too in effect are unlicensed underground boxing events if you like, just with ribbons and bows. 

In the walls of the Queensbury rules and the solid foundations of the British Boxing Board, unlicensed boxing is frowned upon and there is no place for it. – To affiliate with the board, a promotional outfit would have to adhere to the stringent rules, regulations and first and foremost the safety of the boxers, with regular health checks, scans and regulated weight divisions and appropriate ringside medical setups.

The problem with unlicensed boxing is that it has no body to keep an eye on the fighters and their safety. Many of the people who take part in it, do so because they don’t want to commit to an amateur career or are not serious enough to become a fully fledged professional. 

MMA or Cage fighting isn’t licenced by the BBBofC but there is a place for it in sport and in society and they have managed to create there own well organised, well run and regulated code with licences, adhered to rules and safety procedures for the combatants.

We are not talking here about the fights that are held in barns, caravan parks and fields off the side of the road’s in some far flung corners of the country. That is another culture and fighting code altogether and isn’t what we are looking at right now. 

Unlicensed boxing is dangerous in that it has no medical facilities to support their bouts. A boxer who was knocked-out cold in his last fight, could maybe apply to fight the week after with no restriction. – A fighter with a torn retina, a heart condition, or any other medical condition can all get fights. – In the event that a fighter is seriously injured there would be no adequate medical support in place to deal with an emergency.

Fighting for Something – ‘The Lives of unlicensed boxers’ – read more

But as long as there is boxing, there will be unlicensed boxing and we were asked the question is there a place within the game for the unlicensed circuit? – And if it should be recognised and regulated alongside amateur and professional boxing, as a separate entity? 

This way it could be regulated by it’s own elected body and rules and regulations could be brought in to come in line with safety protocol of amateur and professional boxing. Or is there no place for unlicensed boxing? – Should we just ignore it and condemn it to the underground, pretend it isn’t happening or should it be discussed and brought into line with modern combat sport safety. – Is it effectively illegal then, if a licence is required in a country to fight? 

Former professional boxer and Thai boxing champion Kevin ‘Morris’ Armstrong of BritishBoxers.co.uk spoke on the subject and gave his views on how the unlicensed circuit could be made into a novice league, with boxers getting licensed and taking part in boxing that is somewhere in between the amateur and professional game, but more importantly monitored with the fighters safety paramount.

Listen to Kevin’s views on the subject on the video above.


Kevin also speaks about his work and his gym that acts as an haven for not only boxers, Thai boxers and MMA stars, but youths from the local area who he guides and mentors, getting them off the streets and into a positive and educational enviroment, teaching self respect, esteme and helping them through boxing realise their potential.

Kevin is now part of the BritishBoxers team and will be a regular fixture on the website with his views and opinions on the sport.

What are your views on the unlicensed circuit – Is there a place for it in the name of boxing?

By Chris Maylett

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