Tony Flanagan is only surviving founder member of the Cork ex Boxers and is still throwing punches

Tony Flanagan is only surviving founder member of the Cork ex Boxers and is still throwing punches

Tony Flanagan, of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association.

TONY FLANAGAN is the only surviving active member of the Cork Ex Boxers Association (CEBA) which was founded in 1972.

Next year, the CEBA will celebrate their Golden Jubilee, and a special program of events is being organised to mark the prestigious occasion.

Amongst the founding members of CEBA were its late President Tim O'Sullivan, who passed away on October 10 last.

Tim, along with Paddy "The Champ" Martin, spearheaded the movement almost fifty years ago.

Fellow founding members included Jim Fitzgerald, Eamer Coughlan, John "Kid" Cronin, Jack Corbett, Ray Donnelly, Tommy Hyde, Willie O'Leary, Thomas J. Kelleher, John O'Driscoll, George Fitzgerald, Connie Morrissey and Tony Flanagan.

The Cork Ex Boxers Association are now the third oldest association of its kind in the world.

They have supported the Cork sporting landscape and made an enormous impact on the development of boxing in the deep south.

Sadly, however, their half-century of activity has seen all of their founding members pass to their eternal award with the exception of the lion-hearted Flanagan, who to this day is still very active on the club scene and operates as a coach with the Sunnyside BC.

In 1993, Tony was presented with the Ex-Boxers Hall of Fame Award. 

This was also a night of celebration for the organisation as it marked their 21st anniversary, with over 100 guests attending a dinner at the Sunset Ridge Hotel.

Tony has developed many friendships within the sport. Amongst these was the Prince of Cork boxing Tommy Hyde who passed away in 2012.

Five years later, a plaque was erected in Bishop Lucey Park to acknowledge his achievements. The plaque was unveiled by his long-time friend Tony Flanagan.

Born and reared in County Roscommon, Tony joined the army and was posted in Collins Barracks in Cork in 1970.

Members of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association who organised the 'Jack McAuliffe Day.
Members of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association who organised the 'Jack McAuliffe Day.

Following his arrival on Leeside, he joined the Fr Horgan's BC where he won a number of County titles and was coached by the well-respected Paul Power, who had a standout reputation for producing champions.

Tony recalled that the Fr Horgan's was an outstanding club at the time. The club was led by Chairman Bill Power. Tony also boxed successfully with the army and won two titles.

Following his retirement from the ring, he went on to coach many successful army teams and won the Defence Forces Championships on several occasions.

His greatest memory from his boxing days was when he defeated the Irish welterweight titleholder Mike Quinn at a tournament in Galway in the 1970s.

Some of his favourite boxers were Mick Dowling, Christy Elliott and Kieran Joyce. Tony settled in Cork, where he met and married Anne and set up home together. Anne has always been a big support to Tony and has been a welcome visitor at many Cork boxing functions.

In addition to his boxing career, Tony was also interested in athletics and ran with the Leevale club for many years. Here, he met and became close friends with Brendan Mooney, who went on the become boxing correspondent with the Examiner and the Echo.

Tony's other interests included Gaelic football and hurling, and he takes great delight in seeing his native county win the Connaught football Championships from time to time.

To relax, Flanagan liked country music, going for long walks, dining out and going to Spain on holidays.

When he retired from the army, he worked for over twenty years as the groundsman on the rugby pitches at Christian CBC. Here, he developed a lifelong friendship with Donncha O'Callaghan, the celebrated Munster and Irish rugby international.

Amongst Tony's other close friends are Dan O'Connell, the former President of the Cork County Boxing Board who described Tony as a gentleman, "He is a very sincere and decent man who will go out of his way to help anybody," said O'Connell.

Over the years, Tony has remained a very active member of CEBA. Ten years ago, Cork's Boxer of the Century, Kieran Joyce, invited him to join the Sunnyside BC as a coach where he still remains.

"Tony has made a great contribution to the club. He is well-respected by young boxers and has a lot of knowledge to impart," said Joyce.

Up to the Covid-19 break, Tony worked with the head coach Gordon Joyce, who said: "He has given a lifetime of service to boxing and is a softly-spoken man who has shown great attention to our boxers.

"He has done a great job for the club and is an outstanding ambassador for boxing."

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