THE Lord Mayor of Cork, Dr John Sheehan, welcomed a delegation from Cork boxing to City Hall on Tuesday in his last week in office.
Over the past year, Cork’s first citizen attended various boxing events and has worked with all three boxing groups; the Cork County Boxing Board (CCBB), Cork Ex Boxers Association (CEBA) and the Cork Boxing Fraternity Association (CBFA).
Cork boxing has been linked to City Hall since it opened its doors on Anglesea Street in 1936. In those 84 years, the civic authorities have encouraged and facilitated the sport at every opportunity.
The lord mayor’s office has always been available to both boxers and administrators, and local authority personnel have worked hand in glove with the CCBB and CEBA.
“All lords mayor have shown generosity of spirit and have helped to promote the sport of amateur boxing,” said CCBB president Michael O’Brien.
O’Brien and Conal Thomas of the CBFA met the lord mayor two days ago. The CCBB has been established for well over 100 years while the CBFA was founded in 2015.
Tim O’Sullivan of the Cork Ex Boxers Association sent a letter of commendation thanking Cork’s 1st citizen, but the CEBA boss was unable to attend this week’s gathering.
Cork boxing has regularly availed of the Concert Hall in City Hall, and many tournaments have been run at the venue. Much of Cork’s boxing history was made in the auditorium. This was complemented by the opening of Bishop Lucey Park in 1985.
Many boxing events have taken place in the city centre amenity. The park is also a shop window for the promotion of the sport.
To assist boxing further, Cork City Council also provided a site at Churchfield for the purpose of building a state-of-the-art facility. However, the recession and prohibitive costs have seen this plan delayed indefinitely.
In the meantime, the city council did step in five years ago, and, in partnership with the CCBB, assisted Cork boxing with a premises in Churchfield.
This is now the Cork Boxing Centre, an interim headquarters which has been an enormous benefit to the Board. The lord mayor, during this week’s meeting, unfolded plans for Bishop Lucey Park.
Mr O’Brien said he was delighted to see the park being upgraded: “Cork boxing fans were well pleased to hear that the iconic Boxing Wall will continue to be a prominent feature in the renovated park.”
During the course of the meeting, Mr O’Brien and Mr Thomas gave the lord mayor an outline of their plans as they prepare to address the obstacles from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Thomas said: “The success of boxing on Leeside in recent years has been phenomenal and is of great encouragement to up and coming young athletes.”
Mr Thomas went on to give the lord mayor an insight as to why he, as a businessman, backed the sport passionately
: “Boxing in Cork in recent years has made headlines for all the right reasons and I am confident that this will continue. I admire the Cork board as they concentrate solely on attracting athletes, provide facilities and deliver results.”
Cllr Sheehan observed that he had first-hand knowledge of the work involved in Cork boxing in the last year.
“I was delighted to preside over the opening of the Cork Boxing Memorabilia Exhibition which attracted more than 23,000 people to the City Library over a four-week period,” he said.
The lord mayor reflected on leading the parade of Cork’s All-Ireland champions through Bishop Lucey Park to strains of the Butter Exchange band.
He said he was delighted to attend the unveiling of plaques in the park to Irish heavyweight champion Pakey O’Mahony and the Glen BC to mark their status as Ireland’s oldest boxing club.
The lord mayor was also delighted to receive a Cork Boxing Delegation prior to their departure to San Francisco. This group was led by Sean Barrett and Aine McLaughlin.
And, on a historic night just before to the Covid-19 lockdown, Dr Sheehan, in the company of Fionnuala Mac Curtain unveiled a portrait of Tomás Mac Curtain in the Glen club on March 13.
This was an evening to remember with concerts and presentations which commemorated the Centenary of Mac Curtain’s — a former lord mayor of Cork and the first president of the Glen BC — death.
To mark his patronage of Cork boxing this year, presentations were made to Dr Sheehan who responded by saying it was both an honour and privilege to be associated with all boxing occasions during the year.
“I looked forward to attending all these events, and as a Blackpool man I was particularly delighted to have been present for the centenary commemoration of a former lord mayor,” he said.
“I congratulate all involved in Cork Boxing and wish the sport the very best in the coming years.”