Glen's Tom Kelleher is one of the greatest boxing coaches Cork ever produced

John Morrissey has no hesitation in declaring he has seen the best and, in his opinion, Tom Kelleher is the greatest boxing coach Cork has produced.
Glen's Tom Kelleher is one of the greatest boxing coaches Cork ever produced

Tommy Kelleher Recognition Night, Cork City Hall - Members of the Cork County Boxing Board pictured with Glen BC Coach Tommy Kelleher at the tribute night to recognise his contribution to Cork and Irish boxing for over 40 years at Cork City Hall. Picture:Doug Minihane

ON a pleasant Sunday afternoon in mid-October, Tom Kelleher, the famed Glen BC coach, is standing outside the sideline of a hurling field in Mourne Abbey.

He is there to support Glen Rovers, who are playing Newtown Shandrum in the Cork Senior hurling championships. 

Apart from his life of amateur boxing, Kelleher is also a Glen Rovers follower.

Each of these Blackpool clubs are locked in sporting history and were established together over 100 years ago in 1916.

Kelleher is a proud northsider and Blackpool is the undisputed capital of that hinterland.

When the hurling game was over and Glen Rovers, after a lacklustre performance, scraped a one-point victory, Kelliher was happy and the smile of relief which graced his face said the job was done and the Glen hurlers had marched on again.

On the following Monday night, Tom Kelleher was, where he is five nights a week, in the Glen Boxing Club. 

Here, he is the ring master. Kelleher is Cork's most experienced and respected boxing coach.

This title was hard-earned and richly deserved after a lifetime of service to the sport. 

Kelleher is well known in Blackpool. Equally, he is well known throughout the Irish boxing landscape.

With the passing of two great boxing stalwarts over the last 18 months in Maurice Walsh and Tim O Sullivan, Tom Kelliher is now the elder statesman of Cork boxing.

Tommy Kelleher Recognition Night, Cork City Hall - Members of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association pictured with Glen BC Coach Tommy Kelleher at the tribute night to recognise his contribution to Cork and Irish boxing for over 40 years at Cork City Hall
Tommy Kelleher Recognition Night, Cork City Hall - Members of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association pictured with Glen BC Coach Tommy Kelleher at the tribute night to recognise his contribution to Cork and Irish boxing for over 40 years at Cork City Hall

However, this does not mean that he only attends functions and boxing events. 

On the contrary, Kelleher, for a man of his age, is super fit. He works out every day and directs training and sparing sessions in the Glen nightly.

Equally, he is a very active member of the Glen BC Executive Committee and takes great pride in the club's condition and ensures that it is maintained in pristine condition from the slates on the roof to the standard of hygiene in each of the toilets.

This building is now 40 years old and situated on the North Ring Road overlooking Spring Lane where the first Gen club was established.

The original club operated out of a two-room terraced house and lasted there for over 50 years. 

This venue attracted some of Cork's greatest boxers and enjoyed a historical half-century.

In 1959 when Paddy "The Champ" Martin climbed out of the ring after beating Jos Bygraves at City Hall, this was a proud night for all members of the Glen club.

That same year a young Tom Kelliher made his way up Spring Lane to join the club attracted by the success of the Glen boxers.

However, Tommy was also following in the footsteps of his two older brothers, John and Noel, who became All-Ireland champions.

Tommy's primary aspiration, however, was to become the main trainer with the club. 

His dream finally became a reality and Kelleher has spent the last thirty years at Ireland's oldest boxing club holding that position.

During his long career, Kelleher has coached thousands of youngsters, many of whom went on to win Irish tiles. In his coaching career, Kelleher has served three clubs. 

His first was Brian Dillon's BC, the second was Ballyvolane BC which were acknowledged as one of Ireland's most successful boxing academies at the time.

Here, Kelleher trained his son Michael to win five All-Ireland titles. 

John Morrissey and Tom Kelleher.
John Morrissey and Tom Kelleher.

Unfortunately, this clubhouse was burnt down and the unit became defunct. 

Kelleher then returned to the Glen club, where it all started, and eventually took over as head coach.

The IABA recognized Kelleher's abilities, and he was appointed to the Irish Gaelic Youth team, which enjoyed great success at home and in Canada.

Kelleher was then promoted to the Irish Elite squad, where he enjoyed further success with fellow coach Mickey Hawkins, touring England, Scotland and the Czech Republic.

They then moved on to the World Elite Championships in Russia in 1989, and the duo were in Michael Carruth's corner when he won a bronze medal.

Kelleher has always been acknowledged as an outstanding ambassador for boxing. 

Prominent boxing coach and former international John Morrissey has no hesitation in declaring he has seen the best and, in his opinion, Tom Kelleher is the greatest boxing coach Cork has produced.

Over the years, Kelleher has received many accolades, including a civic reception from the Lord Mayor of Cork a few years ago. 

This was to mark his selection as Cork Boxing Personality of the Year.

However, one award had eluded him over the years. 

This is the Cork indoor Sports Award for Boxing. 

Kelleher was finally selected to receive this award in April 2020. 

However, the Covid 19 pandemic prevented this from taking place.

Plans are now been finalised to reschedule this event, and Tom Kelleher will be presented with this long overdue and well-deserved award.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more