Tough times for Cork boxers desperately hoping to get back in the ring

Tough times for Cork boxers desperately hoping to get back in the ring
Chelsea Jordan of Muskerry BC (Red) and Lana O'Sullivan of Togher in action during the Cork Boxing Leagues earlier this year. Picture: Doug Minihane

THE first full meeting of the Cork County Boxing Board in four months was held on Tuesday of last week.

The full officer board attended, and one representative from each club was in situ. The meeting took place in the main hall at the Boxing Centre in Churchfield with social distancing regulations applied.

The only item up for discussion was the restrictions placed on the sport by the Covid-19 pandemic which has locked down all boxing activity in Ireland.

Michael O’Brien, President of the CCBB, presided over the gathering and welcomed all delegates. O’Brien encouraged all to work together to travel the road toward the safe return of active competition.

O’Brien warned that there could be many difficult days ahead and the entire landscape of boxing, as it is understood, could be changed for all going forward.

The discussion also centred on many delegates speaking of the experiences they had within their clubs.

It was pointed out that each club must now provide their own Covid-19 officers going forward.

Here, the IABA has provided information for all clubs, while the Munster Council has arranged hands-on information meetings. The Cork Board, meantime, has appointed Aine McLaughlin as their Covid-19 officer.

“The appointment of the Covid-19 officer by the Board was taken as a proactive and common-sense measure,” said O’Brien.

O’Brien pointed out that the CCBB, during its season, organises league sessions for several months of the year, Boys and Girls Championships and facilitates the work of the male and female Boxing Academies.

“If there is no provision for a Covid-19 officer from the Board in this instance, the Board, with such activity taking place in their headquarters, could be accused of being both naive and negligent and complicit in not complying with directives of the authorities who govern conditions in relation to the safe return of boxing,” O’Brien added.

The meeting also heard that the return to activity would commence on August 1 with some training. On September 1 it is proposed that physical contact training resumes and within a month or six weeks after that it is hoped that competition will be on the horizon.

At that point, it is anticipated that the Munster Boys and Girls Championships could take place.

The essential issue of club premises and gyms was also discussed at the meeting. In many cases down through the years, when a prominent club lost their base, that unit, in many instances, became defunct.

In the current climate, the Board once again encouraged all clubs to engage with their landlords if difficulties arise.

When the government issued a directive to close activities down last March, all units automatically lost their capacity to generate income and maintain themselves.

As part of government policy, and carried in adverts at the time, it was stated that we are all in this together and it was suggested that three months grace be applied to all parties in all communities.

It was pointed out at the Churchfield meeting that this was the spirit of goodwill that should prevail throughout the county and country. However, O’Brien warned clubs about ruthless landlords. He advised clubs if they were experiencing difficulties in dealing with unreasonable people, they should inform the Cork Board who would attempt to intervene on their behalf.

On Tuesday of this week, the CCBB met with the Lord Mayor of Cork and outlined the circumstance and difficulties being experienced by some of their clubs.

Cork’s 1st citizen said he fully backed the Board in their endeavours and requested that all landlords be reasonable in their dealings with clubs runs by volunteers.

The primary purpose of the CCBB is to preserve and maintain the number of clubs within the city and the county.

Over the 106-year history of the Board, the average number of clubs affiliated throughout Cork was 17. Over the last five years, the number of clubs affiliated has consistently stayed at approximately 30 units.

Boxing on Leeside has been growing steadily, and while the odd club has been lost, Cork is maintaining its continuous expansion.

The Rebel County is the third largest boxing stronghold in Ireland after Dublin, which has over 60 clubs, and Antrim, which has over 40 units.

In Cork, the sport features prominently both inside the outside the ring. Here, the Board is complemented by the work of the Cork Ex Boxers Association and the Cork Boxing Fraternity Association.

“In 1970, Cork boxing was reduced to just one affiliated club, the Fr Horgan’s BC. That dark period must never again be seen in Cork,” said Mick O’Brien who encouraged all at last week’s meeting to work together to overcome the challenge which is presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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