Eddie Hearn wants heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury to join forces and follow Marcus Rashford's example by campaigning to save grassroots boxing.

While there's not much arch-rivals Joshua and Fury can agree on, both know the value of grassroots boxing clubs, which have been forced to close as the coronavirus pandemic forced the country into lockdown.

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And Hearn fears their proven track record for helping kids from troubled backgrounds could impact on a generation – if they aren't supported to reopen.

"Every kid that's in these clubs, if they weren't in there would be on the street, would be getting arrested, would be involved in violence, involved in drugs or going the wrong way," he said.

"I'm worried about us losing these clubs. They're the beating heart of the sport. People say you should help - and we are, but there's only so much we can give. I'm sure the government don't want these clubs to go under, but it's frustrating."

The fight game's foothold in communities strengthened before COVID-19 struck, with nearly 100,000 more people regularly training than they were in 2016 and far more women, according to data gathered by England Boxing.

"I came from a very privileged background and going to a boxing club was the best thing I ever did,"said Hearn.

"I've got two daughters and I'd have no problem sending them to an amateur boxing club - if I had a son, I would make him go. You talk about government trying to address obesity in kids and mental health, this is another solution for that."

The transformative impact of the sport on broken homes and lives in turmoil endures, with heavyweight world champion Joshua helped to rise from a troubled upbringing by Finchley Amateur Boxing Club.

The boxing world remains transfixed on the prospect of an undisputed title fight between Joshua and Fury next year, but Hearn says there are more pressing matters at hand for the rivals than what might happen in 2021.

"Do I go for the (Marcus) Rashford approach, and put the pressure on? I think the answer is yes," said Hearn.

"England Boxing don't have the platform on social media to do it, and the only way you're going to get that changed is by making boxing heard.

"Marcus has done an unbelievable job - first and foremost, you have to get the support of the people and he got that.

"Will the people support a campaign to make sure local boxing clubs in the community can survive? They will I can get myself, AJ, Tyson Fury, all these different people, to support and put pressure on.

"I'll be writing to Oliver Dowden and Nigel Huddleston (culture and sports minister) and saying: we'd like to chat about it. I'm not looking to just be a loudmouth on social media, it's just a serious adult conversation for the good of the country and the community.

"It's not about the future generation of stars and champions, it's for the people who can say that boxing gave me discipline, structure and respect in my life."

Hearn is mucking in when it comes to community support and he volunteered virtually with charity Sporting Memories as part of a new Miss Out To Help Out initiative from The National Lottery and ITV.

The promoter spoke to 12 charity members - mostly from Scotland - about their memories of Old Firm derbies gone by and famous Scottish fighters, joining a session run by the charity, one of the thousands of community groups supported by some of the 30m (UK pounds) raised by Lottery players for good causes weekly.

"It was great to sit down and talk to these people and see the smiles on their faces," said Hearn.

"It's very difficult at the moment - socially our lives aren't in existence and for older people, this is their total escape.

"I feel like we've got a responsibility to help where we can and everyone can do that with Miss Out To Help Out."

Miss Out to Help Out is encouraging the public to miss out on their favourite TV shows and instead use that time to 'help out' in their community - a new initiative from The National Lottery and ITV.

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