London

Boxing returns to Royal Albert Hall after 13 years

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Media captionBoxing in the Royal Albert Hall returned after a 13-year break

Boxing returned to the Royal Albert Hall, 13 years after the London venue lost its licence to host boxing and wrestling.

In 1999 the hall lost its licence following concerns from local residents about noise levels.

But in April 2011 the Court of Appeal overturned a 2010 High Court ruling to end licensing approval for the sports.

On Saturday night Billy Jo Saunders beat Tony Hill for the vacant Commonwealth middleweight title.

The South Kensington hall once hosted boxing legends including Muhammad Ali, Sir Henry Cooper and Frank Bruno.

'Serious disturbances'

In 1999 residents complained about noise levels leading to the licence being revoked.

But in May 2009, Westminster City Council, acting as licensing authority, decided to vary the licence adding boxing and wrestling to the list of permitted activities.

Residents challenged the council's move in the High Court claiming the local authority had not consulted tenants in Albert Court.

In 2010 they won an order to end licensing approval for the sports.

But last year that decision was overturned and the three appeal judges ruled that if residents' fears of "very serious disturbances" were realised they could apply for a review of the licence.

Ahead of the bout Graeme Aarons, from Albert Court Residence Association, said: "Our concern as residents is not so much as an opposition to boxing per se, we don't oppose it.

"But what we are concerned about is that if there are very high profile international events that could bring an unruly clientele."

However boxing promoter Frank Warren said: "Boxing's been at the Royal Albert Hall since 1920 and there's not been any problems to my knowledge. It certainly might be as loud as a rock concert."

Mr Warren hopes the venue can host up to eight fights a year.

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