Summary: Boxing has always been a popular sport in Cardiff, with a rich history of world-class events held in the city. From iconic venues such as the Motorpoint Arena to local amateur boxing clubs, Cardiff has produced some of the UK’s finest boxers and hosted some unforgettable events over the years.
1. The History of Boxing in Cardiff
Boxing first arrived in the Welsh capital in the early 1900s, with local fighters such as Charlie Edwards and Jim Driscoll making a name for themselves on the world stage. The iconic Sophia Gardens Pavilion hosted some of the most memorable bouts of this era, while the neighbouring Cardiff Arms Park was also a popular venue for boxing events.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the National Stadium on Westgate Street became the city’s premier boxing arena, hosting big-name fights featuring the likes of Frank Bruno and Joe Calzaghe. Sadly, this historic venue was demolished in 1999, but many of the biggest fights have since found a new home in the Motorpoint Arena.
Today, boxing is as popular as ever in Cardiff, with a thriving amateur scene and a number of professional gyms and training facilities across the city.
2. The Motorpoint Arena
The Motorpoint Arena has become the go-to venue for major boxing events in Cardiff in recent years. It’s a modern, state-of-the-art facility that boasts a capacity of up to 7,500 fans, making it the largest indoor arena in Wales.
The venue has seen its fair share of historic moments over the years, from Anthony Joshua’s victory over Joseph Parker in 2018 to Lee Selby’s featherweight title defence against Eric Hunter in 2016. With an impressive line-up of upcoming fights, including the highly-anticipated unification clash between Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk in September 2021, the Motorpoint Arena looks set to remain one of the UK’s premier boxing venues for years to come.
The arena is also home to local amateur boxing clubs such as Splott ABC and Butetown ABC, who regularly host shows featuring young up-and-coming boxers from the Cardiff area.
3. Local Amateur Boxing Clubs
While the Motorpoint Arena may grab most of the headlines, it’s the grassroots level that really drives the popularity of boxing in Cardiff. Local amateur clubs such as St Joseph’s ABC, Butetown ABC, and Penarth ABC provide a platform for young boxers to learn the sport, develop their skills and compete at a regional and national level.
These clubs have produced some of the UK’s biggest boxing talents over the years, including Nathan Cleverly, Joe Calzaghe, and Lee Selby. They continue to thrive today, with dozens of young boxers training and competing under the guidance of experienced coaches and volunteers.
Amateur boxing events are held throughout the year across Cardiff, providing fans of the sport with an opportunity to see the stars of tomorrow in action.
4. Big Names in Cardiff Boxing
Cardiff has produced some of the finest boxers ever to come out of the UK, with many of them going on to achieve worldwide acclaim. Perhaps the most famous of these is Joe Calzaghe, the former super-middleweight and light-heavyweight world champion who retired undefeated in 2008.
Other big names from Cardiff include Lee Selby, who won the IBF featherweight world title in 2015, and Anthony Joshua, who fought at the Principality Stadium in 2018 in front of 78,000 fans.
While these fighters may have made it to the top, they all started their careers at local amateur boxing clubs, proving that Cardiff’s grassroots scene is as important as ever in developing the next generation of boxing stars.
5. Promoting Boxing in Cardiff
Despite the popularity of boxing in Cardiff, there are still challenges facing the sport in the city. One of the biggest issues is promoting the sport to younger generations, ensuring that the grassroots level remains strong and that amateur clubs continue to produce top-level talent.
This is where initiatives such as the Welsh Boxing Association’s Boxing Voices project come in. This scheme aims to promote boxing to young people across Wales through a series of inspiring role model workshops, networking events, and training sessions.
By working together, local clubs, promoters, and sporting bodies can ensure that boxing continues to thrive in Cardiff for many years to come, producing the champions of the future and hosting unforgettable events in the process.
Boxing has a rich history in Cardiff, with iconic venues such as the Sophia Gardens Pavilion, Cardiff Arms Park, and the National Stadium all playing key roles in the development of the sport in the city. Today, the Motorpoint Arena serves as the premier boxing venue in Cardiff, while local amateur clubs continue to produce top-level talent and host grassroots events throughout the year. By promoting the sport to younger generations and working together to support local clubs, Cardiff has a bright future as one of the UK’s premier boxing cities.