Cork boxing: Leeside legend Paddy 'the Champ' Martin to be honoured

Cork Ex-Boxers Association will host a golden jubilee dinner dance this April where contribution of the father of the Taoiseach Micheál Martin will be celebrated
Cork boxing: Leeside legend Paddy 'the Champ' Martin to be honoured

Paddy Martin (left) and Jiimmy Fitzgerald presenting the 1984 Cork Ex-Boxers Hall Of Fame award to the legendary Tommy Hyde.

FIFTY years ago, Paddy Martin and Tim O'Sullivan founded the Cork Ex-Boxers Association.

This year the CEBA will host a golden jubilee dinner dance. Over the last half-century, this group of former Cork boxers have played a significant role in promoting the sport of Leeside.

During the course of this year, many events have been organised to proudly celebrate the glorious contribution of the third-longest group of former ex boxes in the world.

The focal point of the year will be the dinner dance on the 30 of April at the Rochestown Park Hotel. The keynote speaker and guest of honour will be An Taoiseach Micheál Martin, the son of founder member Paddy Martin.

This function will be a proud occasion for all members of the Martin family and CEBA have fully complied with all the arrangements surrounding the Taoiseach's visit.

The Taoiseach's brother and former Lord Mayor of Cork Sean Martin is also President of the successful Turner's Cross-based Spartan boxing club.

Sean is liaising with all family members to ensure that this will be a night that the family will take pride in, as they rightfully acknowledge the contribution to boxing made by Paddy Martin.

A northsider, Paddy Martin was born and reared in an area known as Clankatan, an area located loosely between Dillion's Cross and Collins Barracks.

Later he lived with his late sister Maura and her husband Mossy in Spangle Hill. While at the local National school, Paddy displayed many natural talents as a sportsman.

He excelled at boxing, football and Gaelic football. During the emergency of the 1940s, and while still a year too young, Paddy managed to wangle his way into the auxiliary army.

Around this time, he also joined the Glen boxing club and played Gaelic football with St Nicks, the sister club of Glen Rovers.

Paddy ignored the GAA ban and played football with Free Booters, who had Frank O'Farrell amongst their ranks. O'Farrell made it as a pro in England and later managed Manchester United.

During his playing days with St Nicks, among his colleagues were Jack Lynch and

A young Cllr Micheál Martin, deputising for the Lord Mayor, presenting the Cork Ex-Boxers Association Hall of Fame award to his father Paddy at the Sunset Ridge Hotel in October 1985.. Also included are Roy O'Sullivan of Dublin Ex-Boxers (on left), Tim O'Sullivan, Treasurer, John 'Kid' Cronin ,President ,and Ray Donnelly, Tresurer of the CEBA.
A young Cllr Micheál Martin, deputising for the Lord Mayor, presenting the Cork Ex-Boxers Association Hall of Fame award to his father Paddy at the Sunset Ridge Hotel in October 1985.. Also included are Roy O'Sullivan of Dublin Ex-Boxers (on left), Tim O'Sullivan, Treasurer, John 'Kid' Cronin ,President ,and Ray Donnelly, Tresurer of the CEBA.

Christy Ring. While boxing with the Glen, Martin won six County titles and five Munster Championships.

He represented Ireland at home and abroad on 14 occasions. Two of his most famous victories came in Italy in 1951. While representing Ireland, he knocked out the Italian European champions Giacomo Di Sergni in Rome, and he outpointed the European champion again six months later when they met in Milan.

Paddy Martin's big Irish success also came that year at Cork's City Hall.

On that night, Martin defeated the Jamaican champion Joe Byrgrave, who later went on the knockout Heney Cooper who is, in turn, dropped Muhammad Ali in the fourth round of their clash.

Following these events, Martin's win over Bygrave was then put in context and from this came the elusive title Paddy 'The Champ' Martin.

Two men who saw many of Paddy's fights were John Sheehan, a first cousin of the Martins and an accomplished athletic coach with Leevale AC. The other was Tim O'Sullivan. Tim often recalled how Martin always stood his ground in the ring and was fearless.

Paddy Martin, President of the Cork Ex Boxers Social & Benevolent Club, making a presentation to Kieran Joyce the first Cork boxer to win a medal at the European Champions. Front left to right: Tim O'Sullivan, John Fiddes, Tommy Hyde, Kieran Joyce, Paddy Martin, Denis Lyons, Danzer Nagle. Back: Eamer Coughlan, Charlie Cogan, Brian Joyce, Jimmy Fitzgerald, Albie Murphy, Mossy O'Callaghan.
Paddy Martin, President of the Cork Ex Boxers Social & Benevolent Club, making a presentation to Kieran Joyce the first Cork boxer to win a medal at the European Champions. Front left to right: Tim O'Sullivan, John Fiddes, Tommy Hyde, Kieran Joyce, Paddy Martin, Denis Lyons, Danzer Nagle. Back: Eamer Coughlan, Charlie Cogan, Brian Joyce, Jimmy Fitzgerald, Albie Murphy, Mossy O'Callaghan.

O'Sullivan added that Martin had great potential, and he took great pride in boxing and being given the opportunity to wear the green vest of Ireland.

On retirement, he coached the Glen, CIE and Ballinlough boing clubs. He had a straight manner and left no one was under any illusion as to his point of view.

During this period as President of CEBA and occasionally when matters became overheated at meetings, Paddy had no difficulty doing a bit of fine-tuning. This approach helped many fully understand getting to the point and cutting out the waffle.

According to O'Sullivan, Paddy Martin was essentially a private man who gave much of his time organising financial assistance for those in need. Paddy Martin worked with CIE as a bus driver and later as an inspector.

Derry McCarthy is a current member of the CEBA Golden Jubilee committee. He fondly remembers many of the fights won by Paddy.

He was always there for people who had experienced harsh and difficult times. Therefore, when Paddy Martin is honoured with a presentation to his family on April 30, the guests will not just be remembering a man who was a boxer or a founder member of CEBA, but a man who was a real friend to many who had experienced poverty and destitution.

Tickets, costing €40, will be going on sale this weekend and are available from members of CEBA and the Cork County Boxing Board.

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