CORK boxing was recently plunged into sadness following the death of Tim O'Sullivan, described by many as the public face of the sport on Leeside over many generations.
O'Sullivan was the quintessential boxing man and participated in every aspect of the boxing as an athlete, coach, administrator and ambassador.
As news of his death spread, messages of sympathy poured in from far and wide.
Tim was widely respected and well-known internationally. This quickly became apparent when messages of condolences were relayed from Britain, mainland Europe and the United States.
If the current Covid-19 restrictions were not in place, such was the respect he enjoyed; there would have been extraordinary numbers attending his funeral.
For over forty years if any public comment was required on a boxing matter about Cork, Tim O'Sullivan was the man.
For generations, Irish Examiner and Echo reporters always sought him out for official comment which they could rely on as being accurate, informative and balanced.
While the Taoiseach Michael Martin led the many hundreds of tributes to Tim O'Sullivan, many of his colleagues in Cork boxing circles were contacted by people throughout the country who wished to express their sorrow.
Many of these were boxing people who had known Tim for over half a century and wanted to share an experience or story about the man.
The O'Sullivan family received letters of sympathy from President Michael D. Higgins, the Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. Joe Kavanagh and the Mayor of Boston Marty Walsh.
Walsh's friendship with Tim O'Sullivan went back quite a few years and was developed through the former World contender Sean Mannion who was a native of Rosmuc in the west of Ireland, from where Boston's 1st citizen had his family roots.
Mannion had visited the Ballinlough BC on a number of occasions while the Ballinlough club also travelled to Rosmuc. Mannion introduced Tim O'Sullivan to Walsh, and the friendship continued for many years.
Meanwhile, the late Tim O'Sullivan firmly believed that for a two-year period that Gary "Spike" O'Sullivan's career was going nowhere.
In that period, Spike had what Tim described as three meaningless fights. One Sunday morning after Mass at the local Ballinlough church, Tim met a man who was close to Spike and who was also a member of the Loughmahon BC.
Tim spelt it out very clearly. He said Spike had an incredible punch, good looks and the right name and added sharply: "If he is to make money out of this game get him out to America straight away."
And with authority in his voice, he added, "get this message to his manager in Dublin, and if he can't do it tell Spike we will sort it out for him immediately."
On Spike's behalf, the Loughmahon BC man sent a clear message to his Dublin management team, and within two months O'Sullivan had the first of many fights in America. From there he progressed onto the world stage of middleweight boxing and went on to record some notable victories.
This all came about on account of the wisdom and foresight of Tim O'Sullivan, who through his enthusiasm and concern for Spike, helped to propel him into becoming a respected international name in his weight class.
Elsewhere, Tim remained friends with Paudie O'Shea, the famed Kerry footballer. The friendship began when O'Sullivan was working as a physio with the Kerry team in 1975.
Over the years, when O'Shea was injured, he contacted O'Sullivan, and after he retired from football, he was a regular caller to Tim's office in Maylor Street. The friendship continued up to O'Shea's sudden death in December 2012.
Tim O'Sullivan was also a great organiser of boxing tournaments at City Hall. He was also instrumental in having Jack Doyle's body returned to Cobh for burial in 1978.
On Tuesday of last week following his Mass, his coffin was proudly draped with the Cork Ex Boxers Association flag, while the hearse had a guard of honour provided by the Ex boxers and County Board officers.
Piper Norman O'Rourke led the cortege. Following an oration at the graveside, in keeping with time-honoured tradition, a ringside bell was tolled three times.
The coffin was then lowered to the strains of The Banks of My Own Lovely Lee which was a fitting tribute to a lifelong Cork boxing legend.