Ben Shalom and his Boxxer stable pledge their support to Ringside Charitable Trust

Ben Shalom and his Boxxer stable pledge their support to Ringside Charitable Trust

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By Matt Christie

BEN SHALOM is the first major British promoter to pledge his support to Ringside Charitable Trust (RCT), the registered charity designed purely to help ex-boxers in need. Shalom, alongside his Boxxer stable, has made an initial £5,000 donation after meeting with RCT founder Dave Harris late last year.

It’s been a long journey for Team Ringside and Harris, whose aim remains to establish care homes for boxers in much the same way that other sports have done for their fallen heroes.

“By now, I would have expected to have had our first care home up and running,” Harris told Boxing News. “But for whatever reason, and despite gaining the support of the British Boxing Board of Control, fans, and many former world champions, we haven’t found it easy to even just sit down with the major powerbrokers in this country. We’ve never asked them for money, just their attention. We have plans to make this work – the key is to get everyone to listen to those plans and then support them.

“Now that Ben has very kindly pledged his support, and he recognised the importance of what we’re trying to achieve straight away, we hope the rest will now follow.”

It’s rare that a weekend goes by when a charity event isn’t taking place to raise funds for RCT. The charity achieved registered status in 2018, one year after an initial meeting with representatives from several promotional companies took place at the Boxing News office and Harris’ plans were met with surprising indifference. However, in recent years, small hall promoters like Mark Neilson, Mo Prior and Dave Westgarth have embraced the charity. In February, the first of seven shows will be staged in which punters can add an extra pound to the cost of a ticket that will go straight to RCT.

Harris, who founded the British Boxing Hall of Fame, remains fiercely determined to move forward. Perhaps more than anyone, he has witnessed the extent of the hard times upon which ex-boxers can fall. Often too proud to ask for help, or worse, unable to do so, too many fighters have been left with nowhere to turn.

Should other major promoters, broadcasters and fighters follow Boxxer’s lead, the plight of ex-boxers should dramatically improve. Fortunes don’t need to be sacrificed in the process; workable infrastructure merely needs implementation.

Shalom, 31, remains one of the youngest licensed promoters in Britain and rose to prominence with his Ultimate Boxxer tournaments before securing exclusive UK broadcast rights with Sky Sports in 2021. Since then, he has built an impressive stable of young and established talent. Harris and RCT can now add the names of high-profile boxers Chris Billam-Smith, Joshua Buatsi, Natasha Jonas, Savannah Marshall, Ben Whittaker, Caroline Dubois, Adam Azim, Lawrence Okolie, Frazer Clarke, Richard Riakporhe, Dan Azeez, Tyler Denny, Lauren Price, Viddal Riley, Karriss Artingstall, Zak Chelli, Martin Bakole, Mikael Lawal, Chris Kongo, Florian Marku, Callum Simpson, Jeamie TKV and Francesca Hennessy to the burgeoning list of RCT supporters. It’s understood that each donated to the cause.

Shalom will meet again with Harris this month to formulate plans to work together in the long term. For the charity to function as it should do, and for any care homes to be sustainable, RCT must be welcomed by all. It’s perplexing why it’s taken this long but these latest steps should be championed, as should Shalom for understanding the importance of the venture.

“This could be the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for,” Harris said. “We have raised a lot of money since we started but it’s always been exceptionally hard work and by and large has come from the pockets of the general public. For the sport to have a sustainable aftercare system that we can be proud of, and frankly one that should have been in place a long time ago in a sport like boxing, it needs unity throughout the industry. To his great credit, Ben recognised that. If we can now talk to other promoters, like Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren, we can change the game together. We can put something in place that future generations will both be proud of and grateful for.

“The sport will always be dangerous. And like in any other walk of life, some boxers will struggle in retirement. It’s imperative that we show the critics of boxing that it’s a sport that understands the potential dangers, the pitfalls and, above all, it’s a sport that will always look after its own.”

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