THE Cork Boxing Memrobelia Exhibition at the City Library last September rekindled many memories of Leeside’s legends from yesteryear.
One of these men was Thomas Joseph Falvey, who boxed out of the Sunnyside BC. Falvey competed at fly and bantam in a distinguished career which saw him win four Cork titles and Munster belts.
He represented Ireland on two occasions after being capped against Canada at Dublin’s National Stadium and Wales in Mullingar.
Falvey was also a GAA enthusiast and became a selector with the Glen Rovers underage set up after he hung up his gloves.
The photograph above shows Falvey with the late Jerry O’Sullivan, one of Glen’s all-time hurling greats.
Falvey was born on September 19, 1928, in the heart of Cork’s northside; French’s Villas off Wolfe Tone Street. That year Irish boxing sent a team to Amsterdam for our second Olympiad as an independent nation.
In 1933, at five years of age, he was enrolled in the Blarney Street National School where he received his formal education for the next decade.
The two big sports at the school at the time were basketball and boxing, and it was in this setting that the young prospect was introduced to the noble art.
Many boxing tournaments were organised in the school and Christian Brothers Declan and Colm motivated Falvey to take up the sport. From an early age, he displayed a flair for the ring and was encouraged by the order to join the Sunnyside Boxing Club.
In 1940, at 12 years of age, he lined out for the acclaimed outfit for the first time and tasted success in many tournaments from the beginning of his career.
The big names in Cork during that epoch were Gunner Murray of the Glen BC and Tommy Hyde of the Sunnyside BC who beat Billy O’Mahony in the 1946 Irish Senior/Elite final in Dublin.
By 1945, Falvey was well established as a contender. Also that year, he began an apprenticeship as a mason, a trade synonymous with his family over many generations.
By 1951, he had served his time and was actively employed on a tradesman’s salary. He was also making waves in the boxing halls of Munster up to his 22nd birthday.
At this point, he was both County and Munster champion and went on to secure another two County and Provincial belts.
The President of the Cork Boxing Board at the time was Charlie Attagh who had made representations to the IABA on behalf of Falvey for the Olympic panel for Helsinki 1952 where Antrim’s John McNally won Ireland’s first Olympic boxing medal (silver).
Attagh, who was of German descent, also nominated Tim O’Sullivan for the Irish squad for the London 1948 Olympics.
Falvey’s interest in the sport, however, was divided between boxing and romance and he became engaged to Eile Mulcahy from Patrick’s Arch near the North Cathedral.
Boxing was now beginning to play second fiddle, and in 1953, at 25 years of age, he prematurely retired from the sport at the height of his potential with his fiery bouts against Christy Buckley, Seán Sheehan, David O’Neill and Billy Bloss still fresh in the memory.
However, the contests he most fondly enjoyed, he recalled, were the ding dong tussles he had with Randy Turpin. Both men stood and delivered!
In 1954 he married Eile, and they set up home in a flat on Shandon Street over Kingston Butchers. He was also involved with various Glen Rovers underage sides at the time.
At the time, Local TD Jack Lynch of that same hurling club made representations on Falvey’s behalf to City Hall, and soon Falvey and his new bride had a new house at No 3 Knockpogue Avenue off Fair Hill where they raised a family.
In 1960, Falvey decided to emigrate to Birmingham and while working there came out of retirement and boxed with the once-famous, but now defunct, Willmot Breedons ABC.
He returned to Cork in the late 1960s following a brief visit to Australia, but he made a decision to return once again to Australia in 1972 and finally settled in Perth.
Falvey never saw Leeside again following his second trip Down Under. However, in 1994 his son Matt returned to the auld sod. That year, Tim Falvey, a cousin and also a mason by trade, was the Lord Mayor of Cork.
Tim welcome Matt to City Hall and presented him with a framed photograph of Blackrock Castle for his dad.
Thomas Joseph Falvey, a champion boxer, Glen Rovers stalwart and proud Corkman died peacefully in Perth in Western Australia on February 11, 1995, at 66 years of age.
He’s remembered as an outstanding champion and Irish international with the Sunnyside BC.