Double alumnus Tom Graves (Sport Studies BA(Hons) 2015, Sport and International Development MA 2016) has earned the opportunity to become a member of the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC), the main governing body of professional boxing in the UK. We caught up with Tom to find out more.
How and when did this happen?
“While studying for my degrees at the School of Sport and Service Management in Eastbourne, I took every opportunity in my modules and assessments to analyse and produce research on one of my biggest passions – the sport of boxing.
“With guidance from senior lecturer Dr Christopher Matthews, I wrote a first-class undergraduate dissertation, Protect Yourself At All Times – A critical investigation into exploitation in professional boxing. Subsequently, I produced a distinction-graded postgraduate research article, Weight Making Culture in Professional Boxing.
“During the research process, I made various contacts in the sport, one being the General Secretary of the BBBofC, Robert Smith. This communication resulted in being offered a role as an inspector for the southern area of the board. The inspectors are considered the eyes and ears for the BBBofC – in effect the ‘constables on the beat’, who enforce regulatory and medical safeguards, and oversee the application of the rules and regulations. I started working at live shows from January 2016 onwards. The process of the role is that you serve an apprenticeship-type period so that you gain experience, and get a good understanding of rules and regulations, and how professional shows operate.”
What inspired your interest in boxing?
“I started taking a real interest in boxing from around 2007. It was the last few fights in the careers of Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe that really sparked my passion. Since then I closely followed the sport, learnt about the history of the sport, reading various boxers’ biographies, and watching countless old fights and documentaries. I have always been into sport but by the age of about sixteen I grew out love with football and cricket, so in the following years I just used to keep fit by going to the gym, running and boxing. I also competed as an amateur boxer for my hometown club. Years later, I could have never imagined I’d be fortunate enough to work in professional boxing.”
Name a particular highlight
“Since securing this role, I’ve worked at the big fight nights of stars such as Anthony Joshua, Chris Eubank Jr and David Haye. I have also been fortunate enough to meet, work with and spend time around some of boxing’s legendary characters past and present. One memory that stays in my mind is witnessing Anthony Joshua win his first world title in April 2016.
“However the highlight so far has to be supervising southern area title fights at small hall events such as York Hall in Bethnal Green, London. These fights are so competitive and often thrilling between two boxers who may never be good enough to win world titles or make millions of pounds but their desire and willpower is something you can’t help but respect and admire.”
What are your future ambitions for involvement in the sport?
“In May, I attended a seminar with BBBofC and the mental health charity Mind. The seminar was focused on raising awareness of the issue of mental health in boxing with the aim of fighting against stigma and discrimination. I have plans to contribute towards this campaign.
“For career development at the BBBofC, I have the option to train to be a professional judge and referee. I feel this is something I would like to pursue in the long-term future.”