Cork boxing clubs remain in limbo as no date on the horizon for a return to action

Cork boxing clubs remain in limbo as no date on the horizon for a return to action

Fr John Lyng, Prior of St Augustines, representing Bishop Fintan Gavin, with Jude O'Callaghan, representing Glen Rovers, pictured in Bishop Lucey Park at the unveiling of the plaque honouring Glen BC as the oldest boxing club in Ireland. Picture: Doug Minihane

LIKE most other sports in Cork boxing is now on hold and reality suggests that there are no indications when it will resume.

Boxing and basketball are seen as contact sports, with the most significant drawback being, in this context, that they are also classed as indoor sports.

This dilemma presents a considerable challenge to keep the interest and optimism for the sports alive.

However, in addition to the interests of the athletes, the survival of the clubs is now of paramount importance.

As part of the government's directive to all clubs, a grant via Sport Ireland should have been allocated on behalf of the clubs.

This was a special once-off Covid-19 grant to offset costs to clubs who had to make changes to improve standards in sanitation and toilet facilities to comply with the latest regulations concerning the virus.

To protect the survival of Cork's clubs the Cork County Board immediately contacted the Taoiseach's personnel assistant Mary Rose-Desmond and strongly outlined the urgency and the challenge facing the clubs.

On Monday last, the Taoiseach's office confirmed the good news to the Cork Board that monies had been paid to the IABA and clubs can expect these grants to be made payable within the next week.

Meanwhile, on Friday morning last at St Augustine's Church on Washington Street, the 11 am Mass remembered Christy Ring to mark the centenary of his birth.

The Mass request came from the Glen BC to acknowledge Ring's association with the boxing club for over 25 years.

Father Tom Sexton celebrated the Mass, and while, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Church was empty, thousands watched the service throughout the world as it was streamed live on the web.

Father Sexton, in a well-prepared homily, spoke with passion about Ring and Ireland's greatest hurler involvement with the Glen.

Fr Sexton, referring to an article in the previous day's Echo, said Ring was a daily mass goer to St Augustine's when he lived on the Grand Parade for many years.

Ring's record-breaking eight All-Ireland medals were donated to St Augustine's and melted down to form part of a new Chalice.

Father Sexton linked Blackpool, Ring and the two clubs as part of Cork sporting folklore and as a tribute to both units, he sang the Salve Regina.

Following the service, the Glen BC expressed their sincere thanks to Fr Sexton and Father John Lyng.

Elsewhere, work is due to commence in early January on the renovation of Bishop Lucey Park which will incorporate the construction of a new Boxing Wall.

The new Boxing Wall will continue the Cork boxing narrative in the city centre amenity while one of the main features of the area will be a bust of Jack McAuliffe on a five-foot plinth.

McAuliffe is still the only boxing world champion the city has produced, and he was born at No. 5 Churchyard Lane which today forms part of the park.

On March 27, 1866, McAuliffe was baptised in St Peter and Paul's Church across the road from Bishop Lucey Park.

His father worked in the local brewery as a cooper. The family emigrated to the USA before McAuliffe's 10th birthday and initially settled in Maine before later moving to Brooklyn.

McAuliffe quickly developed an interest in amateur boxing. After 100 bouts he turned pro aged 18.

He defeated Jack Karcher in his first fight and embarked on an undefeated run that would stretch for well over a decade.

A mere two years after his paid debut, he claimed the vacant World lightweight title after knocking out Billy Frazier in Boston.

Following a glittering career, the Cork man retired from the Ring undefeated. Jack McAuliffe died in Forest Hills in Queens, New York in 1937.

Seventeen years after his death he was inducted into the Ring Magazine Hall of Fame.

The spirit of Jack McAuliffe still exists on Leeside to this day. In a statement issued last week, Paddy McSweeney, the incumbent President of the Cork Ex Boxers Association, said that they were delighted to see the City Council acknowledge Cork's first world champion.

McSweeney added that the former President and founder of the Cork Ex Boxers, the late Tim O'Sullivan, worked to have McAuliffe acknowledged particularly on the site of his birthplace.

The new President of CEBA concluded by saying that boxing as a sport has a long tradition in Cork and the new Boxing Wall in the renovated park will acknowledge that proud custom.

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