Cork County Boxing Board finally get their chance to pay tribute to Frank O'Sullivan 

Frank, who has been based in Birmingham for over 65 years, was formerly received by the City's deputy Lord Mayor Clr. Fergal Dennehy.
Cork County Boxing Board finally get their chance to pay tribute to Frank O'Sullivan 

Birmingham City BC and England boxing coach Frank O'Sullivan MBE with members of his family in Cork City Hall at a function in his honour hosted by Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Fergal Dennehy. Picture: Doug Minihane

ON Friday last, Frank O'Sullivan, the world-famous amateur boxing coach, was officially welcomed to Cork's City Hall.

Frank, who has been based in Birmingham for over 65 years, was formerly received by the City's deputy Lord Mayor Clr. Fergal Dennehy.

Michael O'Brien represented the Cork County Board, while the President and Chairman of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association, Paddy McSweeney and JJ Murphy, were also in attendance.

Frank was accompanied by his wife and members of his family. 

The occasion was to mark the official presentation of the 2021 Cork Boxing Personality of the Year Award.

In a glowing tribute to Frank's remarkable career and contribution to boxing, Fergal Dennehy said Frank was a great ambassador for the sport and he represented the true spirit and character of Cork boxing.

Congratulating Frank Michael O'Brien said: "Frank left the banks of the Lee a young man but a proud Northsider."

O'Brien added that he was inspired with a fire and a determination to succeed and blazed a trail as an outstanding boxing coach.

The success he achieved was phenomenal, and this was acknowledged by Queen Elizabeth in Buckingham Palace exactly ten years ago.

"Today we in Cork are privileged to welcome him back and to acknowledge a remarkable boxing legend known the world over," O'Brien added.

Before he arrived at City Hall, Frank and his family visited the boxing wall at Bishop Lucey Park. 

He described the edifice as a magnificent and permanent tribute to the history of Cork boxing.

Following the welcome, the Deputy Lord Mayor then made the official presentation. 

He then signed the distinguished visitors' book.

Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Fergal Denny presenting Birmingham City BC head coach Frank O'Sullivan MBE with the Cork Boxing Personality Award for 2021 at a function in Cork City Hall. Picture: Doug Minihane
Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Fergal Denny presenting Birmingham City BC head coach Frank O'Sullivan MBE with the Cork Boxing Personality Award for 2021 at a function in Cork City Hall. Picture: Doug Minihane

As this is the Golden Jubilee year of the Cork Ex Boxers Association, Paddy McSweeney made Frank a presentation of their new tie, while JJ Murphy made a similar presentation to the Deputy Lord Mayor.

O'Sullivan, who left the southern capital as an 18-year-old, grew up in North Abbey street off Shandon street.

And outstanding prospect, he boxed out of the famed Sunnyside BC. 

Little did the young O'Sullivan, affectionately known as Sir Frank, know that when he left Cork in the humble 1950s to take a job with his father in Birmingham that one day he would be honoured by the Queen of England for distinguished services to amateur boxing.

As a young athlete with great potential, he was attracted to the pro ranks in England. 

However, his career in the paid game never materialised due to a severe eye problem that forced him to prematurely retire from the sport on medical grounds.

Following his retirement he set up the EBC BC in 1956.

O'Sullivan made an immediate impact and made a significant contribution to producing British and international champions.

This gym today is acknowledged throughout the world. 

In 1985 he brought a squad to Leeside as part of the Cork 800 celebrations.

On that occasion, he was welcomed to City Hall by the Lord Mayor John Dennehy, the father of Fergal, who received him. last Friday.

O'Sullivan continues to work at his gym six days a week in Birmingham. 

Over the years, he has met some of the world's most outstanding boxing personalities.

Yet, all this failed to prepare him for his day in Buckingham Palace in March 2012 when he stepped between the more regal ropes to be honoured by the world's most enduring monarch with an MBE.

Now 84, O'Sullivan recalled the events and the secrecy he had to maintain after his nomination was confirmed.

Frank said it was a huge surprise when the letter arrived from the Palace before Christmas of that year.

He was requested to keep the matter completely secret and allowed only to tell his wife. 

O'Sullivan is married to Anita and the couple have three children.

In his endorsement, the Queen acknowledged that he had trained boxers at every level down through the decades.

President of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association, Paddy McSweeney, presenting legendary boxing coach Frank O'Sullivan MBE with a CEBA tie and tie pins on the occasion of his visit to Cork City Hall last weekend. Picture: Doug Minihane
President of the Cork Ex-Boxers Association, Paddy McSweeney, presenting legendary boxing coach Frank O'Sullivan MBE with a CEBA tie and tie pins on the occasion of his visit to Cork City Hall last weekend. Picture: Doug Minihane

Down through the decades, he produced many Olympians, including Paddy and Tommy Lynch, Robert McCracken and Frankie Gavin, whose parents are both Irish. 

On entering, the Palace on that famous day, O'Sullivan remembered thinking. 

"My thoughts went back to Cork and what they might be saying on Shandon street about this," he said.

As he sadly left Cork as a young boy, he recalled he left behind a city where there were no TVs or mobile phones, where unemployment was rife, and the economy was more or less on a life support machine.

However, he did bring with him a cherished memory of seeing Tommy Hyde box in City Hall.

Last Friday, Frank O'Sullivan was back at City Hall, where he was the hero and a legend, admired and acknowledged by the boxing fraternity and officially congratulated for a lifetime of magnificent work as a representative of a proud tradition of Cork boxing.

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