Dublin boxer Michael Carruth set for a unique honour on Leeside

Dublin boxer Michael Carruth set for a unique honour on Leeside
Michael Carruth won Olympic gold for Ireland and has become a great friend of Cork boxing.

MICHAEL CARRUTH, Ireland’s first and only male Olympic boxing champion, will have a plaque erected in his honour on Cork’s famous Boxing Wall in Bishop Lucey Park.

The iconic structure records the names of many of Cork’s greats in both the amateur and professional codes since Paris 1924.

While the wall is reserved for Cork men and women, the Cork Ex-Boxers Association (CEBA) have uniquely decided to make one exception; Carruth.

The Dubliner has always been a friend to Cork boxing and is an outstanding ambassador for the sport.

The unveiling will take take place next October in compliance with any Covid-19 restrictions in place at the time.

It’s proposed that the Olympic champion will be presented with honorary membership of the CEBA on the day and will receive a civic reception at City Hall where he’ll sign the visitor’s book in the Lord Mayor’s office.

The ceremony will be followed by a function where a presentation will be made to the Barcelona 1992 gold medallist.

Fianna Fail chief seconds Micheál Martin, whose father, Paddy ‘The Champ’ Martin, was a co-founder of the CEBA with Tim O’Sullivan 50 years ago, will unveil the plaque.

Tim O'Sullivan, president of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association, with Barcelona '92 Olympic gold medalist Michael Carruth who is set to become the first non-Cork boxer to be honoured on the Boxing Wall in Bishop Lucey Park. Picture: Doug Minihane
Tim O'Sullivan, president of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association, with Barcelona '92 Olympic gold medalist Michael Carruth who is set to become the first non-Cork boxer to be honoured on the Boxing Wall in Bishop Lucey Park. Picture: Doug Minihane

The CEBA President O’Sullivan said: “I’m delighted that CEBA is making this exception as Michael Carruth represents all this good about Irish boxing.”

Since his Olympic success, Carruth has been a regular at boxing events in Cork. Paul Buttimer (Sunnyside BC) was also on the 1992 Olympic team which also returned home with silver, courtesy of the ‘Pocket Rocket’ Wayne McCullough.

Amongst Carruth’s visits to Leeside was the 2017 victory dinner dance which celebrated Cork’s all-time success of 33 All-Ireland titles.

The following year he was in Rebel territory for the IABA National Convention held in the Southern Capital for the first time in the 109-year history of the IABA.

During that trip, he attended a function at Ireland’s oldest club, the Glen BC. Carruth teamed up with old friend and Glen BC head coach Tom Kelleher at the bash.

Kelleher, along with Belfast’s Mickey Hawkins, was in Carruth’s corner in 1989 when the Drimnagh BC man won bronze at the World Elites in Moscow.

The CEBA is also planning to mark their Golden Jubilee this year, and take part in the first Ex Boxers Convention in Dungarvan later in 2020.

“The purpose of the Convention is to strengthen the Associations and maintain a link with former boxers throughout the island of Ireland, said CEBA.

“This will help to keep the boxing family unified and identify and strengthen areas that need to be developed and marketed.”

Before Carruth’s top of the podium finish in Barcelona, Ireland’s had won two silver and several bronze medals at various Olympiads. Carruth’s title was Irish boxing’s holy grail.

“We believe that Cork should honour and acknowledge that success,” added Tim O’Sullivan.

O’Sullivan is the oldest living boxing international in the country and was unlucky to miss out on selection for the Irish team for London 1948.

Having been selected initially, he was the victim of IABA shenanigans and was subsequently replaced.

Carruth won his place on the Irish on Elite finals night at the National Stadium in 1992 after beating Billy Walsh, the current USA head coach, in a bout billed as the fight of the year.

Carruth believed that this was his passport to Barcelona at the time, but following a remarkable meeting, a decision was taken to have a box-off between the same two boxers and Carruth also won that contest.

His road was paved with gold from that point on and on August 9, 1992 Carruth, with his dad Austin and Nicolas Cruz-Hernandez in his corner, looked destiny in the eye and sensationally beat the Cuban favourite Juan Hernandez-Sierra to becoming Ireland’s first Olympic boxing champion.

The President of the Cork Boxing Board Michael O’Brien warmly welcomed the decision to honour the Dubliner.

“Boxing is Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport having won sixteen medals in a total of thirty-one medals in all sports, he said.

“Since Ireland first participated in the 1924 Olympics in Paris, thousands of boxers have dared to dream of being Ireland’s first Olympic champion. However, only one man, Michael Carruth, turned that dream into reality.

“It will be a truly proud day for Cork boxing when we honour a legend, a trailblazer and an Olympic icon. It will be a historic occasion for all boxing fans on Leeside.”

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