THE Cork Ex-Boxers Association will begin a year of celebration today to mark the golden jubilee of their foundation in 1972.
That year, founder members Tim O’Sullivan and Paddy Martin set up a club for former boxers. The idea at the time was simple — its primary purpose was to give retired boxers an opportunity to meet up once a month for a chat and form a fund to assist former boxers who had fallen on hard times.
They later decided that they would call it the Cork Ex-Boxers Association. Fifty years later, the CEBA is a thriving association that plays a major part in the promotion and development of boxing in Cork.
However, the organisation remains independent and remains answerable to nobody but themselves. This is seen as the jewel in their crown.
Working with clubs and individuals within the sport over the years, the CEBA has been admired and acknowledged for its great endeavours.
This was reflected in a speech made by President Michael D Higgins when he welcomed members of the CEBA in 2014.
The CEBA had been associated with many other ex-boxer groups, including setting up the Wexford Ex-Boxers Association two years ago.
This Saturday, as part of its 50th-anniversary celebrations, it was intended for members to assemble on the steps of Shandon. The plan was to formerly ring out ‘Banks of my Own Lovely Lee’ on the famous bells. The location on Shandon was chosen as it is an iconic building, with many of Cork’s famous boxing clubs founded in its shadows.
For many years the curator of the famous steeple was the very popular Alex Manning, who boxed for both the Glen and Sunnyside BC. The Shandon steeple is also featured as one of the famous landmarks on the Cork County Boxing Championships medal.
However, due to Covid restrictions, this plan has now been put on hold, but the CEBA nevertheless intends to mark its first day of celebration in a meaningful way.
Since the association held its first official meeting in Canty’s Bar on September 25, 1972, it was proposed that the first official function of the CEBA would be to organise a Mass for deceased boxers.
This Mass took place in St Mary’s Church on Popes Quay and a candle will be lit in this church on Saturday to formallly commence a year of celebration.
The coming year will see the CEBA deliver a very special programme to celebrate a very special 12 months.
Prior to Christmas, a magnificent golden jubilee calendar was launched. This publication received widespread acclamation.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the calendar was very professionally produced and captured the spirit of the association over the last 50 years.
In his message to the CEBA, Mr Martin congratulated all on reaching this milestone and expressed his best wishes to all in their endeavours to promote the organisation in their coming years of celebration.
His father, Paddy Martin, was a founder member of the CEBA, and the Taoiseach is very proud of that.
Mr Martin will also be the guest of honour and a keynote speaker and the golden jubilee banquet, which is scheduled to take place on Saturday, April 30 at the Rochestown Park Hotel.
Amongst the many other events taking place during the year will be the publication of a special book which will chronicle the many events organised by the CEBA in the last 50 years.
This production will be launched in March to coincide with the birthday of the late Tim O’Sullivan who was president of the CEBA up until his death on October 9, 2020.
In conjunction with that date, it is also intended to unveil a plaque to O’Sullivan in Bishop Lucey Park.
On June 17, 2016, a plaque was unveiled to the other founder member of the CEBA, Paddy Martin, who passed away in January 2012.
Meanwhile, the Buckley family from Mallow were recently in touch with the CEBA and requested that consideration be given to unveiling a plaque to honour the contribution to boxing of the famous Buckley brothers.
In the 1950s, Paddy Buckley and his brothers Dave and JJ were household names in Irish boxing. The CEBA PRO Mick O’Brien assured the Buckley family that honouring the brothers was always part of the plans, and their contribution to boxing will be acknowledged publicly later this year.
CEBA president Paddy McSweeney has invited all former boxers from various generations to join in the celebrations set to take place throughout the coming 12 months.