Taoiseach to hear of Cork Boxing ambitious plans first hand at meeting next month

Taoiseach to hear of Cork Boxing ambitious plans first hand at meeting next month

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, John Wiseman, Secretarty of the Cork County Boxing Board and Martin Coughlan of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association pictured at the opening of the Cork Boxing Memoribilia exhibition in Cork City Library last summer. Picture: Doug Minihane

THE Cork County Boxing Board (CCBB) have placed massive significance on their meeting with the Taoiseach Michael Martin in December.

In the wake of the Covid -19 pandemic and the adverse effects it is having on the sport, now is the time to put a constructive plan in place to protect the future of Cork boxing, according to the CCBB.

Last year at a packed City Library, the Taoiseach opened the Cork Memrobelia exhibition; a history of Leeside boxing throughout the generations which represented over 100 years of the sport in the southern capital.

A gallery of boxing artefacts was on display for over four weeks, and the exhibition attracted more than 23,000 visitors.

During his address, Martin spoke passionately about the sport. He named many of the great boxers that Cork had produced and complimented the work throughout the County.

The Taoiseach grew up in a boxing home through his late father Paddy "The Champ" and got to know many of outstanding boxers from the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

In preparation for his meeting with the Board, the Taoiseach has been briefed on all details submitted to his office.

But now the sport finds itself at a crossroads where the provision of permanent home is concerned. 

The last three years have been the most successful both inside and outside the ring.

During the above period, the Cork Board had a five-year lease on the Cork Boxing Centre in Churchfield.

However, this was always only referred to as an interim headquarters. While occupying this premises, the Board received tremendous support from the City Council, but that lease has now expired.

During the period of the last five years and with the benefit of such as base, the Cork County Championships took place each year at the venue, and Cork boxing enjoyed its most successful period.

Clubs performed tremendously, and the coaches produced outstanding athletes. 

For their part, the Board made a significant effort to market the sport which flourished accordingly.

With the exception of this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the previous four years have been tremendous.

Over thirty All-Ireland titles were won in each of those years and two European gold medals and numerous silver and bronze were delivered by Cork's boxers.

Leanne Murphy went on the captain Ireland at the European Championships and women began to play a significant role as administrators with their clubs and Board and judges and referees.

This period saw young All-Ireland champions paraded through Bishop Lucey Park each year where they received their Jack McAuliffe gold medals from the Cork Ex Boxers Association.

The Cork Boxing Breakfasts continued to honour athletes from yesteryear, and Conal Thomas and the Cork Boxing Fraternity played their part in promoting the sport and uniting all members of the Cork boxing family.

The unveiling of many plaques was also witnessed, while the 90th anniversary of Cork's most successful club, the Sunnyside BC, was marked as was the Centenary celebrations of the Glen BC, Ireland's oldest club.

In 2017, Cork celebrated a history-making thirty-three All Ireland titles and over 300 guests including the Taoiseach; the then Lord Mayor and the entire Officer Board of the IABA attended the function.

For fourteen long years, Cork boxing failed to produce an Elite champion. 

However, over the last four years, four Elite belts have returned south, courtesy of potential Olympian Christina Desmond and Irish Grand slam winner Thomas McCarthy.

"The success of these young boxers is an example to all young athletes in Cork," said Board President Michael O'Brien.

Against this background, Cork boxing will make a compelling case to the Taoiseach outlining the urgency and importance of a permanent home.

Michael O'Brien continued: "At the upcoming meeting with the Taoiseach we will ask him for his hands-on support, and we will let him in no doubt that we want him to exercise his considerable influence to cut through the bureaucracy and red tape.

"We want him to stand with the Cork boxing family. We want him to knock on doors, bang the drum and fly the flag for the sport."

O'Brien acknowledged that Michael Martin has been very good for boxing in recent years. 

However, he added: "we now need a permanent home, and we need his help to make this a reality.

"Cork boxing has a long and proud tradition, and we are now delighted to boast that the son of a Cork boxer is the Taoiseach of our country."

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