Knockout becomes first LGBTQ+ amateur boxing club to affiliate with England Boxing

Published by Jon Holmes on

For the first time in England Boxing’s 143-year history, the sport’s national governing body is welcoming in a club that specifically caters for LGBTQ+ people; Knockout co-chair says it is a “pivotal moment for the sport and the queer community”; London club, founded in 2016, now has around 175 members…

By Sports Media LGBT+

Knockout LGBTQ+ Boxing Club members at Pride in London 2023 (image: Camille Benedet)

London’s trailblazing Knockout has become the country’s first LGBTQ+ boxing club to affiliate with England Boxing, the official governing body for the amateur sport.

Knockout LGBTQ+ Boxing Club is an inclusive non-profit boxing club for LGBTQ+ folks. It opened in 2016 and is a space for all genders, sexualities and abilities to explore boxing.

England Boxing oversees more than 1,000 amateur clubs, yet none in its 143-year history has catered specifically for queer boxers – until now.

It means boxers can for the first time participate in sanctioned bouts while training at an explicitly LGBTQ+ club, and represents an important step for the visibility of queer sportspeople against the backdrop of a moral panic around their inclusion in sport at any level.

Knockout’s Jill LeFlour at Pride in London 2023

Boxing is far from immune on this – both England Boxing and the World Boxing Council have an effective ban on trans boxers from competing against cisgender fighters.

Co-chair Don Ngo said: “Knockout LGBTQ+ Boxing Club’s affiliation with England Boxing represents a pivotal moment for the sport and the queer community.

“By breaking down barriers and fostering acceptance, this affiliation can continue to pave the way for a more diverse, compassionate, and united boxing community through constructive participation and dialogue.”

Affiliation means Knockout will benefit from greater visibility to challenge stereotypes – something that is vital for a young generation of queer boxers who may face prejudice and discrimination.

As well as giving competitive members the opportunity to compete against other clubs and boxers across the country, joining England Boxing gives members the reassurance that Knockout is subject to the same standards of training and safety as any other affiliated amateur club.

Knockout put on several sessions a week, in Covent Garden and in Islington (image: Chris Jepson)

Knockout’s popularity has ballooned since its foundation in January 2016. The club currently has 175 recreational members and a roster of 11 qualified coaches, led by its formidable head of boxing Paul Jackson, who has 40 years of experience.

The club currently meets four times a week in north and central London. Regular classes are non-contact, using gloves, pads and bags; and now with the recent introduction of sparring.

For more information about Knockout LGBTQ+ Boxing Club, visit their website.

Watch ‘Come Out Fighting’ – a short film by Tom Gaisford that follows gay trans man Jill LeFlour stepping into the ring for a boxing fight.

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Jon Holmes

Digital Sports Editor