Rory Booth, 11, of Theodore, at the Winnunga boxing gym in Fyshwick. Photo: Melissa Adams
The Winnunga Boxing Club in Fyshwick has urged ACT Sports Minister Andrew Barr to attend one of their gym sessions before making a ''devastating'' decision to raise the minimum age for competitors to 14 years.
The ACT has become the second state or territory in Australia to raise the age from 10 to 14, but Boxing ACT isn't going down without a fight.
Boxing ACT has lodged an appeal with the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal in an attempt to overturn the decision.
NSW is the only state or territory which enforces a minimum boxing age of 14, with a large contingent from across the border expected to be affected by the change at an amateur boxing tournament at the Vikings Auditorium at Erindale on Saturday night.
But Winnunga Boxing Club coach Greg Chapman is hopeful the government will not enforce the age limit.
The club has a handful of juniors training at its Fyshwick gym.
Rory Booth of Theodore is 11 years old and trains six days a week, but has only had one fight.
Unlike other sports, there are strict age, weight and experience restrictions on who junior boxers can take on.
The Winnunga Aboriginal Health Centre uses boxing to teach young athletes self-respect and Chapman said the juniors would be heartbroken if they were told they could not have an official boxing match until they were 14.
''A 10-year-old isn't going to hit a 10-year-old very hard … there's head gear, larger gloves, shorter rounds, 10 is a safe age,'' Chapman said.
''It's safer than all the rugby codes, AFL and soccer. You see horrendous injuries with ankles and knees.
''When they get a head injury they're back the next week. With us there's a six-week mandatory stand down period, and we're talking about amateur boxing here, it's a much safer sport.
''We hope to increase the children's belief in themselves and self respect … hopefully they [ACT government] re-think this because it would be devastating.''
Unlike professional boxing, the amateur version of the sport is about tactically scoring points rather than knocking out your opponent.
Boxing ACT is required to seek a permit from the ACT Government each time it holds an event for junior boxers. Approval was forthcoming for this weekend's event, but Boxing ACT only received notification on Tuesday that all contestants must be 14 years or older.
Up to a dozen Canberra boxers aged between 10 and 13 would be affected by the increase, with many more expected from interstate.
Boxing has rules in place to protect younger competitors, such as a mandatory 30-day period out of the ring following a concussion and a limit of a two-kilogram weight difference between fighters under the age of 16.
An interim order is being sought by Boxing ACT to allow fighters under the age of 14 to compete on Saturday. Barr made a brief statement, with a hearing likely to take place before a tribunal tomorrow, but he said it would not be appropriate to comment further.