Billy O'Donovan will be one of the many boxing heroes honoured in 2022 by the Cork Ex-Boxers

During this special year it is planned to honour men and women who have made significant contributions to boxing and to invite them to the Golden Jubilee dinner which will take place at the Rochestown Park Hotel on April 30 next.
Billy O'Donovan will be one of the many boxing heroes honoured in 2022 by the Cork Ex-Boxers

The then Lord Mayor Cllr John Sheehan and Fionnuala McCurtain unveil the framed photo commemorating Tomás McCurtains role as the first President of the Glen Boxing Club, Ireland's oldest club. Picture: Doug Minihane

THIS is the first weekly boxing column of the New Year, and this is a very special year in the history of Cork boxing.

This boxing page has enjoyed a great following from local supporters over the last ten years, with readership growth continuing to dramatically increase year on year.

Over that period, much of Cork's boxing history has been revealed in great detail and this been acknowledged and generously appreciated by not only boxing fans but by general sports followers.

Many have enjoyed these great stories, which are an inherent part of the proud heritage and tradition, which is the real core value of Cork boxing.

In conjunction with the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Cork Ex Boxers Association (CEBA) which began on Saturday the 1st of January last, many opportunities will be created during the year to celebrate the sport and rejoice in the many outstanding contributions of our great boxers and dedicated administrators.

During this time, many great boxing ambassadors have passed away. 

They, however, will not be forgotten and a special mass will take place later in the year. 

Here, family and friends of deceased boxers will be invited to attend the mass.

Following that ceremony, a memory lane will take place and be delivered to reflect on and fondly remember those great boxing people.

This will take place at a special function in the aftermath of the mass.

To commence the year for CEBA, a low-key event took place at St Mary's Church on Pope's quay on Saturday last. 

This was in strict keeping with the chief medical officer, Dr Tony Houlihan's suggestions.

On that day, just two members of CEBA attended the church to light candles.

The two candles lit on Saturday last represented the remembrance of all the work of their members over the last fifty years, while the second candle represented the light of hope and aspiration for the next fifty years.

President of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association, Mr Tim O'Sullivan, presenting Billy O'Donovan of Leeside Lough BC with a special appreciation award to mark hs 40 years of dedicated service to Cork boxing. Picture:Doug Minihane
President of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association, Mr Tim O'Sullivan, presenting Billy O'Donovan of Leeside Lough BC with a special appreciation award to mark hs 40 years of dedicated service to Cork boxing. Picture:Doug Minihane

During this special year it is planned to honour men and women who have made significant contributions to boxing and to invite them to the Golden Jubilee dinner which will take place at the Rochestown Park Hotel on April 30 next.

Among this guests will be Billy O'Donovan, AKA "Billy the Boss," according to PRO Mick O'Brien. 

Billy turned 75 years old recently.

"I recall the night myself, John Wiseman and former President Dan O'Connell attended Billy's 70th birthday party and up until then, this man gave outstanding service to club, County Board and Munster Council during difficult times," O'Brien said.

In 1976, Billy joined the Leeside boxing club it which was then located in Bowne street which now forms part of the Paul's street shopping plaza.

At that time, the Leeside BC included the Casey brothers, Paddy Kavanagah and the late Liam Burke TD was club president. 

Having received a plot of land from the city council near Coal Quay, the club constructed the first purpose built boxing academy in the country.

While successful for a few years, the running costs eventually forced the club the sell the premises. 

Over the next few years, the club moved to a yard in Greenmount before finally, through O'Donovan's influence, settling in at the Lough Community Centre.

The club then changed their name to the Leeeside Lough BC. 

Billy O'Donovan also served the Cork Boxing Board in every capacity except secretary.

He also gave ten years of tremendous service to the Munster Council in his capacity as registrar. 

O'Donovan was also instrumental in bringing the IABA national underage Championships to Cork in 1985 to coincide with the Cork 800 celebrations.

O'Donovan always believes that boxing has ebbed and flowed in Cork, but constant promotion and regular publicity are keys to its success.

Billy O'Donovan will be acknowledged as a tireless worker for the sport on Leeside.

Elsewhere, amongst those contributing to a fifty year book will be the former Lord Mayor of Cork Dr John Sheehan. 

Kieran Joyce in front of a screenshot of his coach and mentor Albie Murphy, with his Cork Boxer Of The Century Award following the presentation at the Boxing Centenary Dinner Dance in 2014. Picture: Doug MInihane
Kieran Joyce in front of a screenshot of his coach and mentor Albie Murphy, with his Cork Boxer Of The Century Award following the presentation at the Boxing Centenary Dinner Dance in 2014. Picture: Doug MInihane

The Blackpoool man will reflect on that special night that was Friday March 13, 2020 when the Glen boxing club hosted a majestic night of song and story to commemorate the Centenary of the death of their first president of the club and Lord Mayor of Cork Tomas MacCurtain.

This was a special night for many for the Lord Mayor who attended with special guests Fionnuala MacCurtain, granddaughter of Tomás MacCurtain and members of her family.

Thus function was the last public function that year due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

When asked recently to pen an article recalling that special night John Sheehan said he would be honoured to do so.

Also included in that publication will be the battle of Blackpool. 

This featured Kieran Joyce, Cork Boxer of the Century, in a historic bout with the future super middleweight champions of the world Steve Collins.

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