ON Wednesday of last week, John Martin was laid to rest.
He was a man who immersed himself in the world of Cork Boxing for well over fifty years.
For many of those years he was a pillar of the Glen boxing club which was founded in 1916.
In 1948 John joined the Glen B.C. and on the same day, John Kelleher who later enjoyed a successful career as a pro, also joined at the famed little clubhouse in spring lane in Blackpool.
John Martin subsequently went on to give Trojan service to the club in many capacities.
On new year’s eve in 1976, the Glen Boxing club had organised a fundraiser.
It was a chicken supper cabaret at Kades Kounty in Glenville. Martin was the chief organiser.
The venue was sold out, and all enjoyed a great night’s entertainment.
Shortly after 11pm, John sat down with a pint at a table where this writer was also seated.
As it was that time of year anyway, he began to reminisce on when he joined the Glen B.C.
He recalled his first night very well and said he took to the sport like a duck to water.
He remembered the club being packed and there was a man called Paddy O’Connell for the Glen Hurling Club inviting young boxers to join the Hurling Club.
He said all the young lads around Blackpool then wanted to box or play hurling.
In 1948, the Glen hurler’s won the Cork County Championship.
In the final against Blackrock, Christy Ring was put off much to the annoyance of Jack Lynch.
Lynch went on that day to play the game of his life in the Glen jersey.
John Martin said it was many years later when he was told about that County final, and what had transpired when Ring was put off.
However, a few weeks after that final in 1948, it was coming up to Christmas and all young boxers were requested to attend the club at around 7pm on a Friday night.
He said two visitors were coming to the club. Martin said there was great excitement and speculation.
It was reported with great authority from many Blackpudlians that the World Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis known as “The brown bomber” was in the City Hall that day with the Lord Mayor.
All the young boxers according to John, were at the club on time, and then he laughed, as he recalled, yes, the two visitors turned up.
It was Christy Ring and Jack Lynch who came to the Boxing club with the County Championship Cup, and Jack brought a couple of crates of red lemonade.
We had a great night and this was one of my best memories when I first joined the club.
Those who sat around the table that night were intrigued and wanted to hear more, however, a club committee member approached the table and said John its after snowing outside and the car park was a winter wonderland as members of the Glen Boxing Club welcomed the new year at midnight.
John Martin boxed at every level with the Glen winning numerous county and Munster titles.
He was a defeated finalist in the senior now elite championships.
He represented Ireland as a senior International and as an amateur, fought the professional John Cauldwell World champion in an exhibition refereed by John ‘kid’ Cronin.
In the hurling field, he won a Harty Cup medal with the North Mon in 1955 and won a County Intermediate Hurling Championship medal with the Glen in 1957.
That team had many great Glen hurlers including Donie O’Donovan, Sean French, Mick Quane, Noel Lynam, Dave McCarthy and Barra O’Tuama.
When he retired from hurling and boxing, he invested his time into the promotion of amateur boxing.
Martin very quickly was heavily involved at every level within the sport. He served the Glen B.C. as a coach referee, club secretary and chairman. He was a prominent member of the Cork ex-boxer’s association.
He was president of the Cork County boxing board, a member of the Munster Council and for many years was a member of the IABA Central Council. He toured abroad with many young Irish Boxing teams as well as taking Glen and Cork teams abroad for International tournaments.
He was the driving force behind the Glen B.C. building and owning their club at Glen Avenue on the Ring Road where they have laid the club’s roots since 1981.
Following his recent funeral, many stories of John were recalled. Donie Crean as a youngster went up to the National stadium in the states to represent Sunnyside B.C.
The club sent him up in the back of a lorry. He had no coach or club member with him. He was fortunate that the Glen coach John Martin stepped in and did his corner for his bout.
Martin later fed him and bought him a ticket to come home in the train with the Glen boxers. Donie said he would never forget what he did for him.
John Martin was a black and white operator who did not suffer fools gladly.
He had many friends in the sport and there were others who said he was lacking when it came to displaying the finer points of diplomacy, however all agreed he was a true boxing man.
Five years ago in 2018, the Glen Boxing club organised a tribute night to him. John Martin was joined by all members of his family including his grandchildren.
The club made him a special presentation from President Mick O’Sullivan, chairman Anthony Connolly and head coach Tom Kelleher. It was a night which was cherished by the Martin family.
As the cortege left the church following the funeral mass, a guard of honour was provided by ten young Glen boxers in their club track suits.
This was a magnificent symbolic occasion for Ireland’s oldest boxing club saying farewell to a man who was just as young as them, when he first joined the club in 1948.