Lord Mayor Joe Kavanagh pays tribute to Mr Cork Boxing Tom Kelleher at City Hall

Lord Mayor Joe Kavanagh pays tribute to Mr Cork Boxing Tom Kelleher at City Hall

Lord Mayor of Cork Joe Kavanagh presenting the Mr Cork Boxing award to Glen coach Tom Kelleher.

ON Friday last, the Lord Mayor of Cork, Joe Kavanagh, invited Glen BC coach Tom Kelleher to City Hall.

This was a very prestigious occasion for Tom as Cork's first citizen welcomed the Blackpool man to the iconic building.

The purpose of the occasion was to present Tom with a magnificent plaque conferring on him the honorary title of Mr Cork Boxing.

On a bright, crisp Spring morning, both men stood on the famed steps of the city's premier building.

The plinth has been occupied down through the years by some of the greatest names in the world.

These include Éamon de Valera, USA President JFK and Queen Elizebeth.

However, on this day, the guest of honour was a true son of Leeside sport who has given 70 years to the promotion of amateur boxing.

Tom has made a significant impact and stood at City Hall as a first-class ambassador for the sport.

In the glowing tribute, the Lord Mayor thanked him for his contribution to sport and boxing in a lifetime of devoted service.

"Volunteers like Tommy are invaluable to society and particularly to the sport of boxing," he said.

"Many youngsters who have joined boxing clubs at an early age have been given a great path in life which gives them an opportunity to understand discipline, proper standards, being competitive and realising from the sport that we all learn from victory and defeat.

"Cork has many outstanding boxing clubs, and I admire the extraordinary work being done by all the coaches and committees.

"I have always been a great admirer of Cork and Irish boxing. Look at the success the sport has enjoyed internationally, particularly during the Olympics.

"Sadly, however, boxing as a sport is entirely underfunded, and this matter needs to be addressed.

Mr Cork Boxing, Tom Kelleher, pictured outside his beloved Glen BC clubhouse in Blackpool recently. Picture: Doug Minihane
Mr Cork Boxing, Tom Kelleher, pictured outside his beloved Glen BC clubhouse in Blackpool recently. Picture: Doug Minihane

"I would appeal to the government, and in particular to our Taoseacht Michael Martin, to give meaningful consideration to this matter as proper and adequate funding to boxing would be money well spent."

Tom Kelleher was accompanied at City Hall by his son Michael whom he proudly coached to five All-Ireland titles.

Also present was the President of the County Board, Michael O'Brien, who thanked the Lord Mayor for hosting the event and in particular for his thought-provoking remarks, which would be warmly welcomed by all boxing followers.

He then congratulated Tom on the accolade, which he said he richly deserved.

Meanwhile, amongst the latest visitors to the famed Boxing Wall at Bishop Lucey Park were prominent Blackrock GAA men Kevin Cummins and Dr Michael O'Halloran.

Once the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted on the construction industry, the park will be closed to the public until work is completed on a €2 million revamp.

Both were intrigued as the perused part of Cork's boxing history, from the litany of plaques that adorn the centrefold wall in the park.

Kevin Cummins is managing director of Cummins Sports and a man who captained the Cork minor hurling team to All-Ireland glory in 1964. He said he was very impressed.

Kevin, a lifelong friend of the late Tim O'Sullivan, is an accomplished writer and penned a very witty, factual and informative article on boxing in UCC during the 1960s.

This was published in a nostalgia feature in The Echo. Michael O'Halloran, an eminent physician, boxed in UCC.

His son, Michael, captained Blackrock in last year's senior hurling win, while his brother John was a member of the famous 1966 Cork All-Ireland winning team.

Both men warmly acknowledged the sporting deeds of generations of the Cork boxers and paid particular attention to the plaque erected to the illustrious Pakey O'Mahony, a man close to all Blackrock hearts.

Following his retirement from boxing, Pakey married Nora O'Driscioll from Blackrock, and they set up home there. 

Once domiciled in the little fishing village, Pakey was invited to train the Blackrock senior hurling team, who were very successful up to 1931 after winning four County titles.

Pakey also trained the Cork team to success on two occasions, including the famous victory over Kilkenny in 1931.

For any former Cork boxer to make the wall in Bishop Lucey Park, he or she has reached the promised land, and their legacy to the sport will live on and will be admired by generations into the future, as was acknowledged by the park's latest pilgrims last week.

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