Cork Boxing: Plea made to Taoiseach Micheál Martin to help fund the sport

'Now more than ever we must develop the sport of boxing for future generations'
Cork Boxing: Plea made to Taoiseach Micheál Martin to help fund the sport

All-Ireland Champion Patrick Lawlor pictured with his Brian Dillons BC club-mates at their premises in Stream Hill, Dillons Cross. Picture: Doug Minihane

LAST weekend, the president of the Cork County Boxing Board Michael O’Brien made a written submission to Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

In the wake of the recent success of Ireland’s boxers at the Olympics, O’Brien states: “Now more than ever is the correct time to engage the Taoiseach and focus his mind on making proper provision through adequate funding to develop the sport of boxing for future generations.”

Having provided a very detailed and comprehensive analysis of boxing on Leeside, O’Brien also gave his opinion on the sport at national level.

O’Brien has been president of the Cork board for the last six years, presiding over one of the biggest and most proactive boards in the country.

He is also no stranger to the national scene and has made many constructive contributions to the development of the IABA at various annual conventions.

Breanna Tobin of Spartan BC, 2020 winner of the Margaret Stacey Memorial Cup, an award made annually to the top boxer in the Cork Ladies Boxing Academy. Picture: Doug Minihane
Breanna Tobin of Spartan BC, 2020 winner of the Margaret Stacey Memorial Cup, an award made annually to the top boxer in the Cork Ladies Boxing Academy. Picture: Doug Minihane

At a crucial time, O’Brien advanced the adoption of the new rule book, the promotion of the Irish language within the sport, and has emphasised clearly the distinction between to role of the Central Council and that of the board of directors.

Of course, the Cork president’s primary purpose is to secure funding for Cork boxing. Like all other sports, the clubs are the bedrock of boxing. In the sport of boxing, the club premises is at the centre of all its activities.

In this instance, the club will always remain vulnerable if its premises is not financially safeguarded.

Clubs must protect their continuation as a unit, and Government funding must be made available to assist all clubs in this respect. Recently, the provision of resilience grants played a major role in helping clubs survive during their Covid-19 lockdown.

During that period, the Government’s overall financial support for boxing was discussed with national treasurer Larry Morrison and national president Dom O’Rourke.

Under the direction of former Olympian John Tracey, Sport Ireland is the agency charged with the allocation of Government funding to all sports.

Under the patronage of Sport Ireland, if a sport like boxing has a poor Olympics, like Rio five years ago, its funding is drastically reduced.

This has been comprehensively pointed out to the Taoiseach, and he has been requested to investigate this flawed structure, given boxing has won nine medals in three of the last four Olympiads. This includes two gold medals this century and three top-12 finishes in the medals tables at Beijing 2008, London 2012, and Tokyo 2020.

Pictured at the 2018 IABA Conference dinner held at the Commons Hotel were IABA Secretary Art O'Brien, Dominic O'Rourke, IABA President, current Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Fergal Dennehy. Picture: Doug Minihane
Pictured at the 2018 IABA Conference dinner held at the Commons Hotel were IABA Secretary Art O'Brien, Dominic O'Rourke, IABA President, current Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Fergal Dennehy. Picture: Doug Minihane

Meanwhile, in recent years, Cork boxing has received reports from Cork City Council.

The board will shortly enter another three-year agreement on another interim headquarters, and this will consolidate and endorse the activities of the board.

The Taoiseach comes from a very strong boxing family, and when John McNally won Ireland’s first Olympic boxing medal (silver) in Helsinki in 1952, the Taoiseach’s father won a very famous bout with Joe Bygraves at Cork’s City Hall around the same time.

Bygraves was then Jamaican champion and went on to win the British heavyweight title.

Boing continues to be Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport and after the recent Games in Tokyo, boxing now boasts 18 medals, including three gold out of the country’s tally of 35 medals since we first participated.

O’Brien hammered this stat home to the Taoiseach. He also requested of the Taoiseach that Sport Ireland should fully explain its modus operandi of dispersing monies to the sport of boxing in the wake of its recent success.

Micheál Martin knows what is happening on their ground in Cork, and has attended many functions over many years.

These events include county board and centenary dinners, the unveiling of plaques in Bishop Lucey Park, boxing breakfasts, the opening of memorabilia exhibitions at the City Library and attending a ceremony where he autographed the canvas during his first visit as Taoiseach to the Glen BC.

Cork boxing is also looking for a permanent home. 

The sport has enjoyed great success of Leeside. The outgoing Lord Mayor of Cork Joe Kavanagh, during his last day in office, made an impassioned plea to the Taoiseach to make more money available to boxing.

On April 30, 2022, the Cork Ex-Boxers Association holds it gold jubilee dinner at Rochestown Park Hotel. The Taoiseach’s s father, Paddy, with the late Tim O’Sullivan, were the founder members of the Cork Ex-Boxers, and the guest of honour and keynote speaker at the event will be Micheál Martin.

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