FOLLOWING the disastrous effects of the Covid-19 virus, amateur boxing in this country is still in dry dock.
However, a glimmer of optimistic hope emerged this week when formal permission was granted to resume full-contact training, but this must take place outdoors.
Based on enquiries made to official sources, the Cork Boxing Board have been told that if the vaccine programme continues to be maintained and people comply with the guidelines, boxing may return to full competitive status around September or October.
This would put the sport on target to commence the new season along traditional lines.
In preparation for the long awaited return to action, the County Board is very confident that their plan which was published in part in this column two months ago will cater for addressing every aspect of the fallout from the long delay created by the virus.
To many people in Cork clubs over the last number of very successful years, the stop has been a major hindrance.
Cork boxing has enjoyed a great run at national and international level in recent times.
This progress must not be lost and all boxers, coaches and clubs will be encouraged on their return to maintain the progress achieved and to promote the sport for future generations.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, September 4, at Cork's City Hall, the Friends of Cork Boxing group will be formally launched.
The foundation of this group which is specifically designed to strengthen the core base of Cork boxing was postponed from last year amid widespread confusion created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the next date will not be deferred and will provide an opportunity for many former Cork boxers and their families to come back into the fold, which will enhance the sport and give a major lifeline to the Cork boxing family.
Over the last number of years, as the main picture on this page illustrates, Cork boxing families only had occasional opportunities to participate in the success of their family members.
Occasions such as the presentation of the Jack McAuliffe gold medals to Cork's All-Ireland champions form each year was a prime example of how proud an occasion it was for all members of their families to come to Bishop Lucey Park.
Membership of this group will also provide an opportunity to continue and increase their interest in boxing long after the athletes from their families have retired.
The Friends of Cork Boxing will be an independent group made up of people promoting their sport and will not be affiliated to any group as this will guarantee its independence and avoid controversy.
The preamble to the formation of the group is coming at a crucial time for the sport.
Its timing is also designed to give boxing a lift following the effect of the virus.
The Friends of Cork Boxing will also have widespread international appeal.
Here, supporters domiciled all over the world will have access to a new website currently being set up.
This will provide all up-to-date news on boxing on Leeside provide great pictures and many nostalgic boxing stories.
The launch of the group will coincide with the new season.
Elsewhere, following last week's column on boxing a City Hall, the article created a great response from the Cork public.
It was equally enjoyed a City Hall by many officials.
Administrator Stephen Scully said he enjoyed reading about the great boxing nights at City Hall and the sporting links it with its concert hall.
When the Taoiseach Michael Martin arrived at City Hall last Sunday morning for his Covid-19 vaccine, he was reminded that his father Paddy the Champ had in the exact same hall won a great victory 70 years ago over Joe Bygraves, who was there for his vaccine.
The Taoiseach replied with a smile of pride on his face.
"I know and I read it again on Echo live the other night."
The return to boxing in Cork in now on the way.
The President of the Board, Michael O'Brien last week reminded all that a return was on the way.
"Our important job right now is to maintain the progress made in recent years and to make Cork the brand leader for amateur boxing in Ireland.
"This goal can be achieved if all Cork clubs, coaches and boxers, work together with outside support groups.
"The Cork public will continue to enjoy great days provided through the success of Cork's boxers."