Don Murray was not only a great boxer, he has been a great servant to the sport in Cork over the past 60 years

This year CEBA celebrates its Golden Jubilee and Don Murray's achievement of 1962 will be proudly acknowledged and celebrated accordingly by his colleagues.
Don Murray was not only a great boxer, he has been a great servant to the sport in Cork over the past 60 years

Tony Flanagan, Paddy McSweeney, Tim O'Sullivan, Derry McCarthy and Don Murray of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association pictured at an event in the Glen Boxing Club in Blackpool. Picture: Doug Minihane.

ON Sunday evening last, a very relaxed Don Murray reflected on his outstanding boxing career.

Sixty years ago, Murray was the toast of Leeside boxing circles following his All-Ireland double success in 1962.

This was a historical achievement for Murray, representing the Matt Talbot's boxing club. 

That year the 22-year-old- boxer won the National Junior and Senior/Elite heavyweight titles.

Murray was coached by Tom Atkinson, an ESB official who had a devoted dedication to the sport of boxing.

The Matt Talbot club was located on the ground floor of a building bearing the same name and serves today as a local community centre.

The geographic location of the club was right in the city centre in an area affectionately known as the Marsh. 

This area and its surroundings are steeped in Cork boxing history.

A couple of hundred years down the road, Jack McAuliffe, Cork's only boxing world champion, was born and lived in that area.

Further down the road, Mick Leahy was born and reared in Paul's street. 

Leahy went on to win the Lonsdale belt when he was crowned British middleweight champion in 1963.

Murray's success was welcomed by all Cork boxing followers. 

The last Cork man to win a heavyweight title was Pakey O'Mahony in 1912/13, exactly fifty years earlier.

When Murray created his bit of boxing history in the early sixties, RTÉ television was only one year in existence and did not cover the national boxing championships.

 Tony Flanagan, Paddy McSweeney, Tim O'Sullivan, Derry McCarthy and Don Murray of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association pictured at an event in the Glen Boxing Club in Blackpool. Picture: Doug Minihane.
Tony Flanagan, Paddy McSweeney, Tim O'Sullivan, Derry McCarthy and Don Murray of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association pictured at an event in the Glen Boxing Club in Blackpool. Picture: Doug Minihane.

However, Murray's senior triumph was carried live by RTÉ radio, who did an outside broadcast from the national stadium. 

This period of the late 50s and early 60s saw Cork boxing enjoy a golden era.

The sport was thriving throughout the city and county. 

In 1960 Paddy Kenny representing the CCNBC unit, whose club was also located in the marsh area, represented Ireland at the Olympic Games in Rome, where he shared a dressing room with Muhammad Ali, the most extraordinary boxing ambassador the world has seen.

Amid the Cork boxing success of that time, like today, the world was in peril as the Cuban missile crisis focused the minds of many.

Nuclear fear also gripped the world at that time as Russia went toe-to-toe with John F Kennedy representing the west.

Over a year later, in June 1963, Kennedy visited Cork City Hall where he received the freedom of the city. 

The ceremony took place in the concert hall, the ancestral home to many Cork boxing events since 1936.

Don Murray was born on July 19, 1939, a few months after Dublin's National Stadium was officially opened.

Murray lived in the Turner's Cross area of the city and received his education at Colaiste Chriost Ri, where he completed his exams.

While at school, he played Gaelic football and lined out with Tower Rovers FC.

At this point, boxing was not on Murray's sporting horizon. 

His father was a mason who played hurling with Lough Rovers and shared the family home with one brother and sisters.

After leaving school, a friend encouraged Don to join the CCYMS boxing club. 

Murray immediately began to excel.

This club was based in the city centre, and over the next three years, Murray won three county and two Munster titles.

In 1960 this club lost its base, and most of the members set up a new club in Matt Talbot Hall. 

They decided to name the boxing club after the name of the building.

At this juncture, Murray was making notable progress. 

In 1962 he fulfilled his potential as a champion. In January of that year, he won the national junior heavyweight crown.

Boxer Spike O’Sullivan atteded the Jack McAulliffe World Day of Boxing 150th birthday party at Clancys Bar and Restaurant . Inclueded are Don Murray from Douglas, Cork who is the only winner of All-Ireland Senior and Junior title in 1962, and Mick O’Brien, President of the Cork Boxingh County Board. Picture Dan Linehan
Boxer Spike O’Sullivan atteded the Jack McAulliffe World Day of Boxing 150th birthday party at Clancys Bar and Restaurant . Inclueded are Don Murray from Douglas, Cork who is the only winner of All-Ireland Senior and Junior title in 1962, and Mick O’Brien, President of the Cork Boxingh County Board. Picture Dan Linehan

And just over two months later, he defeated JM Monaghan on points to claim the Senior/ Elite title on a never to be forgotten night at the National Stadium.

Murray made his international debut against Germany in April of that year. Following his international appearance, Murray was offered a contract to turn pro.

However, he turned down the offer and also retired from boxing. 

Murray surprised many when he declared he had achieved all he wanted from the sport, and the time was right to quit.

Muray later went on to become a coach with UCC boxing club for several years. 

Today, Don Murray is an active member of the Cork ex-Boxers Association. (CEBA).

He is the only former international boxer amongst their ranks. 

He is a Cork man that made history which has never been surpassed.

This year CEBA celebrates its Golden Jubilee and Don Murray's achievement of 1962 will be proudly acknowledged and celebrated accordingly by his colleagues.

Don Murry has been an outstanding ambassador for the sport of boxing, and he is widely admired and respected by all sports followers on Leeside.

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