Cork boxing clubs are now in a battle for survival warns county board

Cork boxing clubs are now in a battle for survival warns county board
Kuba Pielesz of Midleton consoles his opponent Sean Riordan of Rylane following an early stoppage during their Junior 1 Cork Boxing semi-final. Picture: Doug Minihane

THERE are difficult and challenging days ahead for Cork and Irish boxing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Cork County Boxing Board vice-president Billy O’Sullivan.

O’Sullivan was speaking following a recent conference call meeting with CCBB chiefs.

The board expressed concern that when boxing resumes, many new restrictions may follow.

O’Sullivan revealed they had discussed the various scenarios that may arise and observed that it is “the policy of the board to take a proactive rather than a reactive approach.

“This is paramount because the current climate may rock the sport to its foundations”, he warned.

“It will be a battle for survival, and if clubs stand still at this time they will be washed away in a storm of sporting destruction. Clubs need to engage with their landlords concerning rented premises.

“Equally, they need to keep in touch with their boxers. Right now, it may be a time out for the sport as there is no competitive boxing action with the possibility of resumption in the near future in considerable doubt.”

Billy O'Sullivan of Midleton Boxing Club, vice-president of the Cork County Boxing Board. Picture: Doug Minihane
Billy O'Sullivan of Midleton Boxing Club, vice-president of the Cork County Boxing Board. Picture: Doug Minihane

O’Sullivan added that the board are fine-tuning many other aspects of the sport.

This was evidenced last weekend with CCBB secretary John Wiseman putting both the Munster Council and Central Council under pressure after challenging them to set up and organise online referee and judges courses and training.

Wiseman believes this is an ideal opportunity to train boxing personnel in courses including first aid, hand wraps, concussion, nutrition, child protection and administration.

Meanwhile, the Cork Board president Michael O’Brien is in negotiation with the City Council to consolidate their continual commitment to financially supporting the CCBB by way of partnership to maintain their HQ at the Cork Boxing Centre in Churchfield.

Elsewhere, O’Sullivan reckons it’s time for clubs to take action. In his work as a company manager, O’Sullivan is at the cutting edge of marketing.

He believes in meeting challenges head-on, and that solutions will be found through direct remedial action.

“In his brief as board vice president over the last three years, O’Sullivan has done an outstanding job and has been credited with introducing many innovations. Allied to this he has served a long apprenticeship in boxing,” said O’Brien.

O’Sullivan boxed under the late Maurice Walsh at the St Colman’s BC and lined out with his local GAA club Russell Rovers for over 20 years.

Boxing is an inherent part of his life, and in 2013, he helped to set up the now thriving Midleton BC.

His two colleagues at the unit are Colm O’Riordan and Steve Cunningham.

Since they opened their doors, the club has made a considerable contribution to the Midleton and east Cork sporing landscape.

The outfit has produced many County and Munster champions and two All-Ireland titlists, courtesy of Tara Powell and Caitlyn Ryan, the club’s first international.

The Midleton BC operates out of the Railway Gym and has close to 40 boxers in training at any given time. Looking to the National Stadium, the board VP said he would like to see more transparency and changes in Irish boxing.

“Coaches must be allowed to gain experience and must be enabled to travel abroad to get this experience,” he remarked.

O’Sullivan is also interested in international team management. His work with the board has been endorsed and complimented by O’Brien, who said that he had gained invaluable experience over the last three years.

“He is a top chief official and excellent matchmaker,” said O’Brien. “He’s a wizard with a computer and has the ability to devise outstanding programmes. Billy O’Sullivan is acknowledged throughout the country.

“On the local scene, he has built up a very mutually respected alliance and friendship with many coaches and clubs in Cork. A hallmark of his efficiency is punctuality and ability to deliver on all undertakings.

“At 42 years of age, Billy is poised to lead Cork boxing into the testing times of the future,” added O’Brien, who believes that when he retires, Cork boxing will be in a safe pair of hands.

Meanwhile, the Cork County Boxing Board and Cork Ex Boxers Association have extended their deepest sympathies to the Walsh family following the death of Maurice Walsh.

“Maurice and the Walsh family have made a huge contribution to Cork and Irish boxing,” said Michael O’Brien, who added that “his loss is a void that will never be filled.”

Sympathies have also been extended to the Leahy family following the death of Tony Leahy last weekend.

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