see the 2006 Ulster Senior reports
Melbourne 2006 boxing schedule and results
I'll prove my worth - Hamill
By David Kelly
05 February 2006
Dermot Hamill has his eyes set on a medal at the Commonwealth Games next month.
Hamill admits that his confidence is "sky-high" following last weekend's first Irish senior title success in the National Stadium, Dublin.
Hamill made history by becoming the first boxer from Ballymena club All Saints to win an Irish senior title and he says it was "a sweet, sweet victory" over David Nevin.
Following the selection of the seven-man team for Melbourne there had been some barbed comments flying Hamill's way, suggesting that he did not deserve to be heading Down Under, partly because he did compete in the Ulster Senior Championships in December - due to a fractured foot.
Cavan lad Nevin, unable to box for Northern Ireland in the Games, went on to win the Ulster senior light-welterweight title.
"It was a sweet, sweet victory for many reasons. After all the stick I had taken, some hard stuff written in the papers about me, it was great to prove that I should be going to the Games.
"After all I'm the only one going with an Irish senior title," said Hamill.
"And to win the title by beating the Ulster senior champion was just great. I hope I showed a lot of people just how wrong they were.
"And it was special to be the first one from All Saints to win an Irish senior title and it has just given me a lot of confidence going into the Games."
Hamill has been boxing since he was six along with cousin TJ and together they have come through from junior champions to senior success.
Now Dermot believes they can be part of a Northern Ireland team ready to take the Games by storm next month.
"With the right draw at the start I'm sure that I can settle down and go and get a medal," said Hamill, who works as an electrician for HR Electrics.
"That's what happened in the Irish Championships. As soon as I got the first win I was off and running. It was my first win down in the Irish seniors and I just took off.
"I think TJ is boxing as well as I have seen him, he's been working very hard and he was unlucky to lose in the Irish semi-finals and I know that with a bit of luck we can win a medal.
"And I think the team can do very well. We have a young team but a very talented team going to the Games."
Dermot and TJ will be bidding to follow in the footsteps of their uncle and co-trainer Gerry, who struck gold at the 1978 Games in Edmonton when a certain Barry McGuigan also took gold.
"Gerry has been a great help. He knows what it takes and he is giving us plenty of advice and hopefully it will all pay-off."
Boxing: England's hopes take a big hit as Darren wins
By Jack Magowan
11 February 2006
Boxing has been full of bull and bluster about England's medal prospects at next month's Commonwealth Games, but not any more.
Not since the star of their 11-man team for Melbourne was forced to eat humble pie for a second time by Ireland's brightest talent, Darren Sutherland.
It was after James 'Chunky' DeGale won two ABA titles in the same season that North London fans launched into a drum-beating exercise for this 19-year-old six-footer with the James Bond profile.
He would be favourite for middleweight gold, they said, in a Games' side that looked poised for a medal sweep. What nobody had expected, however, least of all young DeGale, was for the England No.1 to be beaten again by Sutherland, this time in Dublin.
The ABA had picked three of its Melbourne squad for this Four Nations tournament, but only Merseysider Stephen Smith had much to celebrate after DeGale came unstuck on the opening night, and Jamie Cox, from Swindon, suffered a melt-down against Cavan tearaway, David Nevin, in the light-welterweight final.
For Sutherland, a 22-year-old student, the Athens Olympics would seem to have come two years too soon.
Not only has he more fire-power than Andy Lee, Ireland's lone choice there, he's a stronger boxer-fighter than Lee, and might well have won a medal at the recent World Championships in China had he not been drawn against the eventual title-winner, a Russian, in the quarter-finals.
"Good body-punchers always catch the eye," says Barney Eastwood, "And young Sutherland is the best I've seen for some time in the amateur game here. He looks comfortable at the weight, too, and, with smart management, could go far in the professional ranks."
Sutherland's dad, Anthony, is from the sunshine island of St Vincent in the Caribbean, but Darren was born in Dublin, where he's now working for a sports' science degree.
He has had about 80 amateur contests, losing only one in over 18 months. It's on Friday, March 3, that Ulster's seven boxers in a smaller-than-usual multi-sport Games team of 56, plus extras, head for Melbourne. This will give competitors over a week to acclimatise for 10 days of non-stop action that will be fiercest in swimming, athletics, cycling and bowls.
It's true that no other sport can match boxing's record haul of Ulster Games' medals - eight Gold, nine silver and 21 bronze - but it's also true that since Victoria '94, the well of talent and success has almost dried up.
Not because competitive standards have improved, I hasten to add.
In fact, from what we saw in Manchester four years ago, they could be in sharp decline, and for that the finger of blame, I feel, points directly at (a) a warped and muddled scoring system even boxers don't like, and (b) the compulsory use of headgear that should be confined to the gym.
Once, boxing was an integral and glamorous part of the 'Friendly Games', but not any more. Now the sport has been reduced to a supporting role, a mere bit-player on a Games' stage dominated by world-ranked swimmers and athletes.
And if Australia look like making a splash in the pool, their boxers, too, will be a match for anybody, judging from results in Manchester.
There, England promoted five finalists and Canada four, but it was the Aussies who won most gold medals (3) on a day in which only Nigeria and Zambia among the African nations had much to celebrate. Changed times. At five Games between Jamaica 1966, scene of Jim McCourt's triumph, and Brisbane '82, African boxers took home no fewer than 29 golds, but since Brisbane, their gold haul stands at 13.
Sadly, the Blays, Waruinges, Kalules and Azumah Nelson's of the game are now as rare as buffalo!
Sports Council funding: £220,000 knockout
By Jim Gracey
19 February 2006
A host of Ulster sportsmen and women with major ambitions will be £220,000 better off this week thanks to the latest round of Sports Council funding.
Sports set to benefit include athletics, cricket, judo, sailing, boxing and hockey as well as Disability Sports.
Biggest awards go to the home-based members of the Irish cricket team bound for next year's World Cup in the West Indies, a total of £47,000, and to our local Commonwealth Games competitors in Melbourne next month who share £25,000.
Minor sports like karting and squash are also supported as is Disability Sport with golfer John Condie being backed to the tune of £9,000 in his bid to reach the 2007 World One-Armed golf championships.
Our players on the Irish hockey team set for the 2008 Olympic qualifying tournament get £10,400 while top squash player Madeline Perry, the world ranked No10 from Banbridge, is awarded £24,800 in her bid to move further up the ladder.
An interesting inclusion is 20-year-old girl boxer Alanna Audley-Murphy, from Belfast, who is aiming to be ready for the 2012 London Olympics if, as expected, womens boxing is included for the first time.
Right now her £4,000 Sports Council award will go toward training for the European Women's Senior Champions being held in Poland in September.
Alanna is a member of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association's High Performance team and is the current Ulster and Irish Champion.
Her successes include a silver medal in the Multi-Nations Event in Istanbul in Turkey in July 2005 and she was also voted best Irish boxer at Canada vs Ireland in Toronto in October 2005.
Alanna said: "The funding and support provided to me by Sports Council for my training and competition should take me some way to achieving my target of a top eight placing in the European event in Poland.
"Ultimately, I hope that London will be the first Olympics to include female boxing so that I can aim to achieve my dream of an Olympic medal."
Her theme was taken up by Sports Council chairman, Professor Eric Saunders, who in confirming the awards, said: "This funding is a reflection of the Sports Council's commitment to improving the levels of excellence in sport in Northern Ireland, especially in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympics.
"All the benefitting athletes will be assisted throughout their performance plans so they can compete successfully in their international competitions.
"The Sports Council's two priorities are the funding of sports people and sports facilities.
"This latest backing for our most talented athletes is part of a £10 million investment package by the Sports Council in local sport.
"In addition to the funding of our talented athletes we have ear-marked £3.6 million to local councils, community groups and education projects and £4.3 million to improving sports facilities."
Boxing: The 'other' Brad Pitt can prove a big hit too!
By Jack Magowan
18 March 2006
Look out for Brad Pitt among Melbourne's medal-winners. No, not the father of Angelina Jolie's baby.
This Brad Pitt is Australia's heavyweight at the Commonwealth Games, a big, strong guy who could double for every girl's favourite card-sharp in Ocean's Eleven.
It was in Manchester four years ago that all three Australian finalists in boxing struck gold, and nobody should be surprised if they now dominate as much in the ring as they will in the pool.
Their 11-man panel has been in training since Christmas, interrupted only by a round-the-world trip to Europe. And in Norway, teenager Lenny Zappavigna not only won the lightweight medal, but was voted 'best boxer' in a tournament spanning twelve nations.
"Lenny win something this time, but gold, I can't be sure. England have a bright talent in Frankie Gavin at the same weight, and what a treat it'll be for the fans if both meet in next Sunday's 60kg final."
Gavin, a 20-year-old southpaw, is from Birmingham, and brought a whole new meaning to being a busy young fighter by engaging in no fewer than 26 contests in 2005, one of them against Cuba's great Mario Kindelan, to whom he conceded nearly half-a-stone.
It was a David v Goliath match, which Kindelan won, but Frankie reckons he learned a lot from the maestro. Since then, he has beaten Selchuk, Turkey's European silver medallist, and the glamour-boy Italian, Valentino, a semi-finalist in the world championships.
Middleweight Chunky DeGale, a double ABA champion, spearheads England's medal charge in Melbourne, where Ulster have a team of seven, four of them medal prospects. Naturally, Immaculata's Ryan Lindberg was hoping to avoid double-Olympic veteran, Bradley Hore, early in the draw, but got a tough Ghanaian instead, while coach Nugget Nugent's other young prodigy, Ciaran Crossan, also 17, must have been happy not to meet tough-guy Ben McEachran in his opening contest. Cruiserweight Ben was a bronze medallist at the last Manchester Games, from which Ulster boxers returned empty-handed for the first time in Commonwealth history.
Out of touch officialdom took the blame for that comedown, just as they should do this time for leaving top coach Mickey Hawkins at home. Let's hope this is not another blunder they'll have reason to regret! Time was when Africans ruled the roost in Games' boxing, but not any longer.
Not since the Canadians and Australians got an appetite for the sport in which the cream of Northern Ireland have won eight gold, nine silver, and 20 bronze medals since Jimmy Magill, from Larne, broke the ice in 1934. Here's hoping we can add to that score in Melbourn!
FEW of us have given more time and energy to amateur boxing than Harry Doherty of Golden Gloves fame. And it doesn't end there.
Just when American boxing writers are about to pick the best film ever made about the game - and my choice would be 'Raging Bull' - lawman Doherty has presented a 30-year collection of over 80 big-fight videos, plus pen profiles, to the Irish ABA in Dublin.
"It's a wonderful gesture by a great friend of boxing," says ABA president, Dominic O'Rourke.
"The videos are a unique record of the sport in all its drama, courage and artistry, and will be of immense value."
What the National Stadium badly needs is a display cabinet in which boxing artifacts and memorabilia could be shop-windowed. Think about it, Mr President!
Meanwhile, the famous cable offering Rinty Monaghan a massive 20,000 dollars, plus travel tickets, for a defence of his world flyweigh crown against Dado Marino in Honolulu remains one of fight fan Doherty's treasured possessions. It is dated September 23, 1948; addressed to Frank McAloran (Rinty's manager), Ludlow Street, Belfast, and signed Sam Ichinose, aloha and best wishes.
TJ has star Neeson in his corner as he battles for
Hollywood star Liam Neeson has more of a reason than most to see a member of Northern Ireland's Commonwealth Games team land a medal.
For Neeson is the Honorary President of the All Saints Boxing Club in his home town of Ballymena from which fighter, Thomas (TJ) Hamill, is battling for success in Melbourne.
Neeson, who boxed for the All Saints club as a boy, still keeps up his interest in the sport and was part of the 5,000 strong crowd which crammed into Madison Square Garden, New York, on St Patrick's Eve to see Derry boxer John Duddy defeat Shelby Pudwill.
TJ Hamill (25) beat a Kenyan fighter yesterday to make the Welterweight quarter-finals in Melbourne, where he now fights England's Neil Perkins on Wednesday.
But also yesterday TJ's 25-year-old All Saints clubmate and cousin, Dermot Hamill (25) lost to Jamie Crees from Wales in the last 16 of the Light Welterweight section.
A source in Ballymena said: "All Saints club members and friends and relatives have been sitting up late into the night to catch the Hamill fights from Australia and there is much excitement.
"The club's Honorary President Liam Neeson takes a keen interest in the club and he will be as proud as anyone else if TJ can win a medal."
Melbourne 2006 boxing schedule and results
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