THE greatest show on earth, the Olympic Games, begins this coming weekend in Tokyo.
Ireland has seven boxers competing at the Games, and the Cork County Board have sent a special message of support to our boxers and good wishes to all our athletes on the Irish Olympic team.
Since 1924 this country has participated in the Olympics.
In all sports combined, Ireland has won a tally of 31 Olympic medals.
Our boxers have blazed a trail with a tally of 16 medals in total.
In Cork we have a proud tradition of Olympic representation.
The names and years, and venues of each boxer's Olympic history are recorded on a plaque on the Boxing Wall in Bishop Lucey Park.
Irish boxing has always performed well at the Games, and this year the nation is represented by a strong team with a good deal of experience.
Former World champion Kellie Harrington is no stranger to the big stage.
During an official visit to Cork's City Hall following her world success, Michael O'Brien made her a presentation on behalf of the Board.
On that occasion, she said that she cherished her world title, but an Olympic medal was her dream.
The eyes of the boxing world will also be firmly focussed on the ringside judges during these Olympics, and their judging will be closely scrutinised.
Meanwhile, the Cork Ex-Boxers Association (CEBA) have ramped up their plans to celebrate their Golden Jubilee.
This will officially commence on the 1st of January next as the Ex-Boxers were established in 1972.
Ten years ago, CEBA was invited to a 40th-anniversary breakfast at the Silver Quay restaurant.
On that occasion, each guest was presented with a memento to mark the milestone.
In the last ten years that aspiration was not only matched but comprehensively surpassed.
During this period, the Cork Ex-Boxers were completely transcended into a very significant influence in the promotion of Cork boxing while staying independent of the Cork Board.
Tim O'Sullivan returned to lead CEBA for the third time in 2012.
This followed the retirement of Willie O Leary. From that year on the brand image of CEBA also began to change.
A new blue blazer with a specially designed crest and matching tie was commissioned.
This signalled to the boxing world that CEBA was on the march.
The former boxers group began to flex its muscles and quickly integrated onto the Cork boxing scene.
At a County Board meeting in 2013, Mick Devane of the Riverstown BC proposed the CEBA be affiliated to the County Board.
The then President Ted Barry ruled against the proposal. Two years later, the CEBA PRO Mick O'Brien was elected President of the County Board.
Equally , however, under no circumstances would O'Brien entertain the possibility of the Ex-Boxers becoming an affiliate of the Board.
O'Brien told CEBA his decision was based on protecting the group's independence to allow them the luxury of being masters of their destiny and accountable to nobody but themselves.
The CEBA then began to develop the concept of working to complement the County Board.
The blazers proliferated in clubs throughout the county.
Here, they made presentations to young boxers, erected plaques on club walls and gave the athletes the benefits of their experiences.
The CEBA then introduced the Jack McAuliffe gold medals.
These were presented to winners of All-Ireland titles each year.
The medals were presented in Bishop Lucey Par.
Before the presentations, the Lord Mayor of Cork and President of CEBA would lead the proud boxers in a parade through the park.
These were very enjoyable days for the hundreds of people, including the parents who thronged the park while the Butter Exchange Band entertained all.
The CEBA was now being recognised.
The group was invited to be guests at the Celtic Box Cup in Dungarvan each September.
The IABA provided complimentary tickets each year on the night of the Irish Elite finals.
The CEBA have also been associated with many seminars and exhibitions.
Now, the great year in the Association's history is about to dawn.
The CEBA President Paddy McSweeney said that their two founding members, Paddy Martin and Tim O'Sullivan, will be honoured in a very special way.
One of the many events that will take place during the year will be the Golden Jubilee Dinner Dance.
This takes place on Saturday, April 30, at the Rochestown Park Hotel.
Five hundred guests are expected to attend, with the guest of honour being the Taoiseach Michael Martin.
This occasion will also be supported by the corporate sector and the MC for the evening will be the experienced John McHale, Sports Editor of the Echo.
The Lord Mayor said that today Cork boxing is an efficient, well-oiled machine.
He added that Cork boxing had been carefully monitored, packaged and marketed to promote its high profile, and the Cork Ex-Boxers can be justifiably proud of their contribution.