Lee Murtagh – EBF – Setting the Record Straight

EBF lofozxAs regular readers will be aware, the shows I put on are licensed by the EBF which stands for the European Boxing Federation. I became involved with the EBF about six years ago. It’s a fully insured semi professional licensed body which as far as I’m concerned fills the void between the ABA (Amateur Boxing Association) and the BBBofC (British Board of Boxing Control) who take care of the Pro fighters.

When I began as a trainer, I had people coming to me saying they wanted to box but had been turned down by amateur clubs as they were too old. Some of these had, for example  studied martial arts for years and just fancied a change, others were late developers,some ex boxers who hadn’t boxed for a while – the list goes on.

It really dawned on me when I started to train Sam Smith,  I realised how good she was but I had to get her in the ring to test her. This is where I drew blank after blank. She couldn’t get an ABA fight, she couldn’t get a BBBofC fight.  Eventually, I was offered a fight on an EBF show, I wasn’t sure until I was invited to spend a day with them at one of their shows in Blackpool. Here I observed weigh ins, medics, good security, experienced referees, in fact everything I would expect to see at a professional show.

The EBF has been going since 2005, it’s roots were in ‘White Collar Boxing’ which largley was businessmen who enjoyed the training but couldn’t fight so they were matched with someone of similar experience to test their skills over four two minute rounds, There’s no winners or losers in White Collar Boxing. Things just grew from there, and there are EBF titles at every weight now involving male and female boxers.  I put Sam on in a few EBF shows before starting to put my own shows on.

I’ll be honest, I attracted criticism from the old  guard in Leeds but slowly over the years the climate has changed. The BBBofC seem to be pricing themselves out of boxing at a local level and many promoters are having to charge sky high ticket prices in small shows, just to break even. The EBF ‘semi pro route’ is now an established way into professional boxing, I think there are 27 pro fighters at the moment who came through the EBF ranks. There are also around 50 UK based promoters and around 1700 boxers. It’s no longer boxings dirty little secret.  I’ve even seen other shows popping up in Leeds that are being mistaken for EBF licensed and insured promotions. The ABA and BBBofC might not like it but the EBF is a fully legal body and become more established. Also with EU rulings the BBBofC can no longer claim to be the only body to put on professional fights, the Luxembourg Federation put on the Haye Chisora fight last year and any European body can do the same. It’s already happening in mainland Europe and has done for years. It’s also not uncommon to see a boxing card made up of a mixture of pro, semi pro and amateur on the continent, it’s only over here where it’s different.


Alex, Liam & Gary.

I put on an EBF bout in Bramley a few weeks ago which included a three man team challenge against Liverpool. Liam Hayes and Alex Ferguson both scored convincing wins, as did Gary Catterill. The  EBF shows always sell out there partly as Billy Wilkinson runs Bethlehem Bramley. We were on Radio Leeds a few weeks ago, although Billy doesn’t seem quite as confident as I am with the media!

Lastly, due to a family matter, I’ve pulled out of  the title fight in the USA. Boxing is not the sort of sport where you should participate unless fully focused, so it was with regret I had to withdraw but I hope to fight there in March next year.


Contact Lee: leemurtaghbui@hotmail.com



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