Equality for Female Boxers in the Olympics

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Boxing: €1,000,000 funding for Irish Women's and Youth Boxing
by Michael O'Neill
April 11, 2013

(APR 11) A big boost for boxing in Ireland following the announcement on Wednesday, by Minister of State for Tourism & Sport, Mr Michael Ring, of an allocation of €1 million (approx $ 1,306,165) in funding for boxing clubs, with particular emphasis on upgrading training facilities, particularly for women and youths.

As in other countries including neighbouring Great Britain, there has been a huge upsurge of interest in women’s boxing in Ireland since London 2012 staged the XXX Olympiad which showcased the women’s sport, officially, for the first time.

The fact that Ireland’s Katie Taylor took the 60kg Lightweight crown has led to clubs throughout the country being inundated with requests for membership information and many clubs simply have not the facilities to take on such extra numbers.

Though there was a relatively quiet period around Christmas, the fact that Taylor went on her “Road to Rio” tour in Dublin and Castlebar with several more appearances to follow, has brought even greater interest since the Christmas and Easter holiday periods. It is understood that the attendances have included as many women and children - who are entirely new to the sport - as traditional boxing fans and of course the fact that she spends hours “chatting” to the younger boys and girls and to their parents, makes her the ideal role model to promote women's boxing.

In December she was appointed AIBA Ambassador for Women’s Boxing ,a role she is taking very seriously and is keen to further promote elsewhere in conjunction with the AIBA.

This latest funding allocation builds on the previous 2011 boxing allocation and will be used to improve boxing facilities. The allocation will again be administered by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association

“This further allocation recognises that many boxing clubs continue to operate in facilities which are in poor condition and lack basic facilities. It’s another important step in helping to ensure that young people who join boxing clubs can train in decent, fit-for-purpose facilities,” Minister Ring said.

“Eligible clubs will be able to make improvements to facilities like dressing rooms, showers, toilets and heating. There will, he emphasised, be a particular focus on providing facilities for women boxers. Under the 2011 initiative more than 50 clubs received funding from an allocation of €1.25 million from my Department through the IABA with a maximum grant then of €25,000 per club.

“This funding is in recognition of the excellent work carried out by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association,” concluded Minister Ring. "It is really to target young girls that are getting into boxing now that don’t have the facilities there for them.

"We are making the funding available to the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, they already have dealt with 50 clubs around the country, they have 70 more clubs waiting to draw down funding.

"The good thing about it is that the IABA will do the paperwork, will provide the engineering work and will be working with the clubs themselves."

“We’re delighted that this allocation has been announced by Minister Ring, said IABA CEO Don Stewart, who along with Dr John Lynch, Chairman of the IABA Board of Directors, helped secure the funding.

“Our athletes consistently do Irish boxing proud in international and domestic competition and our clubs play an enormous role in that success, Any funding that will help our clubs provide better facilities for our boxers is most welcome and is a boost for our sport.”

Yesterday’s announcement should, in the fullness of time, serve to greatly improve standards in Ireland, both for male and female boxers but particularly the latter.

It is worth remembering that until a short time before the start of the 2012 Olympics the Bray Boxing Club, 'home' of Katie Taylor, did not even have a shower or toilet, and when such were installed it was in part due to the generosity of sponsors, Mallons Sausages. Until then she had to use the facilities of the nearby Harbour Bar.

At the end of 2012, the Government announced additional funding for a brand new club in Bray which is also home to fellow Olympian Adam Nolan and to Laoise Traynor. Worth noting in particular is the popularity of the sport in rural areas from Donegal to Kerry with very strong representation in counties like Mayo.

There are already some very talented women boxers in Ireland apart from Taylor and young Amy Broadhurst,who took the European Junior Gold in Poland in September 2012 . Earlier this year, Paulstown’s Hannah McCarthy became Irish Elite champion at 17 defeating former World and European kick boxing champion, Lynne O’Shea ‘en route’ to the final. O’Shea was the reigning Irish champion and was part of the Irish team – with Taylor – at the 2011 European Championships in Rotterdam.

Among other potential champions of the future are such as Ceire Smith, Katie Rowland, Michaela Walsh and Christine Gargan, and those are in addition to established stars like O’Shea, Kelly Harrington, Dervla Duffy and Sinead Kavanagh.

Hopefully the IABA will also now be able to provide opportunities for these boxers to participate in International club tournaments outside of Ireland since one cannot expect international success to follow if one has but a handful of bouts each year in Irish domestic championships! That though is a cry heard in many countries, not just in Ireland.

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