AS the Taoiseach Micheal Martin entered the banquet hall at the Rochestown Park Hotel on Saturday night last, this was seen as a historic moment in Cork boxing history.
All shades of political opinion stood in unison as part of a proud Cork boxing family and gave the Taoiseach a prolonged standing ovation, displaying great pride as they warmly welcomed one of their own to the Cork Ex-Boxers Association (CEBA) golden jubilee dinner.
The sold-out hall was buzzing amidst an electric atmosphere which attracted many former Lord Mayors, the business community and representatives from other sports.
The cream of Cork boxing from many generations turned out to celebrate the golden jubilee of an association which was established in 1972.
The MC on the night was the excellent John McHale who set the tone for a nostalgic night of Cork boxing splendour.
Working in harmony with event co-ordinator Mick O'Brien, the attentive audience were held captive as many nuggets of boxing stories were revealed during a program that was right on cue and kept time with the fast-moving schedule.
This was a proud night for all members of both the Martin and O'Sullivan families as they sat in tables alongside each other.
The O'Sullivans flew in members from abroad for the occasion, while for the Martins it was the first occasion since Michael became Taoiseach that they could all come together as a family to acknowledge the work of CEBA founder members Tim O'Sullivan and Paddy Martin.
Politicians representing all parties who had links to boxing were also present.
These included the Lord Mayor Cllr. Colm Kelleher, Cllr Joe Kavanagh and Cllrs Tony Fitzgerald and Fergal Dennehy.
Many great ex-boxers including Paddy Gough, the former Fr Horgan's BC dynamo, were there, as were Tony Arnold, the great pound for pound stalwart from many a ring battle, Harry Butt the first RTÉ winning boxing star, Don Murray, a man who made history after winning Junior and Elite titles in 1962 and Hillary Loftus, a great performer from the 1950s.
Other great names from the boxing world included John Hennessy from Cobh. John Sheehan was also present at the Taoiseach's table.
A first cousin of Michael Martin, John recalled being in City Hall in 1951 when Paddy Martin beat Joe Bygraves, who later won a British title.
Special guests on the night were the Buckley family from Mallow.
This family produced many outstanding boxers over many generations.
In the 1950s, the famed Paddy Buckley was renowned for training with the Glen BC in Blackpool and to achieve this, and he had to cycle the 22 miles from Mallow to Blackpool and back again.
Later this year, a plaque will be erected in Bishop Lucey Park to honour the magnificent achievements of the Buckley's, an illustrious sporting family.
On the night, presentations were made to the Martin and O'Sullivan families to acknowledge the founder members of CEBA, Paddy Martin and Tim O 'Sullivan.
As part of CEBA 50th year of celebration, a boxer from each of the five decades was selected and presented with a golden glove.
Beginning with the 1970s, the first award winner was Harry Butt and the subsequent decade winners were Gordon Joyce (Sunnyside BC), Seanie Barrett (Rylane BC), Kevin Walsh (St Colman's BC) and Christina Desmond (Macroom BC).
The only surviving member of the original CEBA Committee who was presented with a founder members award was Martin Coughlan, to mark the Coughlan contribution to the Association.
A special presentation was made on the night to Billy O'Sullivan from the Leeside Lough BC for over 40 years of service to boxing.
Special recognition was also given to Doug Minihane, the photographer, for his work in promoting the sport.
A special accolade was presented to the senior statesman of international boxing Don Murray, who also holds the unique record of winning the Irish Junior and Elite heavyweight title in 1962.
The Buckley brothers from Mallow also received an award for their outstanding contribution to the development of the sport.
The Victor Aston Cup for the Cork club of the year was presented to Denis Desmond, club President of the Brian Dillon's BC.
The presentation was made by former County Board President Dan O 'Connell.
The success this club has achieved through great work from Nicola Murphy, the Desmond's, the Lawlor's and others will be featured in a club profile in a future column.
Finally, the Paddy Martin Cup was presented by the Taoiseach Michael Martin to Katie O'Keeffe of the Kanturk BC, who was publicly praised by the Taoiseach as a great ambassador and worthy recipient of this year's award as the holder of three European medals.
The President of the CEBA, Paddy McSweeney congratulated all who had helped the Association in any way over the last 50 years.
He said he hoped the golden jubilee dinner captured the spirit of the Association and looked forward to the many other events planned from the remainder of the year.