SINCE last March there has been very little boxing activity in Cork, but there is now hope that the Elite Championships will take place next January.
However, for the vast majority of male and female athletes, a return to action could be stretched out to next March before a resumption, and that represents a full year lost to the sport.
This will have an adverse effect on boxing throughout the country.
However, in Cork, contingency plans are being put in place through planning and a strategy that will benefit the sport as we emerge from lockdown.
It's envisaged that the County Board, supported by the Cork Ex Boxers Association and the Cork Boxing Fraternity, will launch a campaign to market the sport to attract many new boxers to join clubs throughout the city and county.
These groups networking together will create awareness and opportunities from young boys and girls to participate.
The plan includes a program which will see school visitations and other promotions.
These will be endorsed by the City Council and the County Council.
The narrative of boxing also needs to be addressed. Recent figures suggest that athletes have been participating in the sport up to 16 and 18 years of age, and then there is a significant fall off.
This anomaly needs to be carefully addressed, according to Mick O'Brien, President of the County Board.
Over the years the IABA has given opportunities to many young boxers to travel abroad and represent their county in international competition. Yet, a couple of years later these young men and women have been lost to boxing.
In Cork, up to a few years ago, Leeside went 16 long years without producing an Elite champion. Underage titles are always welcome and celebrated accordingly.
"However, as we advance, Cork must now develop to convert a percentage of these underage titleists to Elite champions.
"This is an issue which must now concentrate the minds of all involved in Cork boxing," stressed Mick O'Brien.
In Ireland, boxing is a united 32-county sport.
The concentration of clubs runs in the following order - Dublin has 64 clubs, Antrim has 46, and Cork has close to thirty affiliated units.
Likewise, when you compare the populations of Dublin and Belfast against Cork, Leeside, per capita, is easily a stronghold in the country.
This suggests that Cork boxing can continue to grow from strength to strength but it must place greater emphasis on adult boxing.
The Cork Board is now working with the clubs to develop a panel of Elite boxers.
Recently, the President of the IABA, Dom O'Rourke, discussed this with the Board and encouraged Cork to develop the 19 years and upwards age categories.
Likewise, Cork boxing authorities will devise a plan to make provisions to nurture the sport from underage to Olympic levels. The Covid lockdown has given the Board the opportunity to concentrate on these issues.
Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, the Board identified locations where boxing could be developed. These areas include Mallow, Youghal, Fermoy and Bandon, and catering for the geographic locations from Passage to Carrigaline.
Progress and contacts have already been made in these areas, but it is of paramount importance to the County Board that clubs must set up with a proper structure and a full working committee.
Equally, the Board has identified greater participation from Colleges.
These included UCC, CIT and other Third Level institutions.
The fresher students each year must be targeted, and a Board liaison officer must establish a link for them with the clubs.
The Cork County Board is now well placed to make every effort to ensure that boxing will advance and prosper in the city and county in the coming years.
Meanwhile, the Cork ex Boxers will meet at the first available opportunity to draw up their Golden Jubilee plans for 2022.
A special souvenir publication illustrating the history of the organisation will be published.
Over the decades the Cork Ex Boxers Association has made an enormous impact and have become the third oldest Ex Boxers Association in the world.
The Association was founded by two former Irish international boxers, Paddy Martin and Tim O'Sullivan, both of whom have now passed to their eternal rewards.
Paddy "The Champ" died in January 2012 and Tim O'Sullivan, who as President wore the chain of office with pride and distinction, passed away on October 10 last.
The Cork Ex Boxers are proud of their founding members, and the publication will be a magnificent souvenir of their contributions to boxing on Leeside.