Irish News Sat March 25 2006

Belfast Telegraph - March 25 2006


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Boxing: State of crisis in Irish boxing

By David Kelly

27 March 2006


Irish amateur boxing has been thrown into crisis over the cancellation of the All-Ireland Boys and Youth championships, which were to have taken place on Saturday.

On Wednesday night a meeting of the IABA's Central Council will attempt to resolve the issue that left boxers from across the island distraught as they were prevented from boxing due to a row over waiver forms.

"It was the saddest day in the history of Irish boxing," said IABA president Dominic O'Rourke who was forced to cancel the championships on Friday when certain delegates blocked the scales for the boxers to weigh-in.

The issue surrounds the signing of waiver forms, which have been introduced by the IABA, calling on the clubs to sign a form which basically states that boxers are aware that they are entering a contact sport.

The forms were passed by 18-2 at Central Council but Dublin delegates remained unhappy with the wording of the document and made their feelings known.

While some have tried to put forward that this is an issue over insurance of the boxers, president O'Rourke dismissed such a view.

It is understood that the waiver form is simply to give some protection to the IABA so that all boxers and parents are aware of the risks, which seems only natural in these highly litigious days.

Of course the big losers in this awful debacle are the boxers, who must now wait to see just when the championships will take place and one wonders if this is not resolved quickly just what impact will it have on other championships.

It is understood that many clubs had signed the forms, including all of Antrim, and were prepared to box but as all had not signed president O'Rourke had no option but to cancel the tournament.

Sean Canavan, the IABA's Child Protection Officer, who was in the middle of conducting the weigh-in, explained: "I had weighed in ten of the kids when suddenly the scales were blockaded and we couldn't continue. I have been in amateur boxing since 1952 and I have never witnessed a scene like that. It was an absolute disgrace. The issue now is not waiver forms but why the championships had to be cancelled."

The cancellation has cost clubs, the majority with little money to spare, a great deal and one such club is Clonoe, whose representative Frank Girvan was fuming.

"I reckon between accommodation, train fares and meals we are out 600 and for nothing and others were out even more," said Girvan, whose club were able to celebrate Michael Gallagher receiving the top official award at the Commonwealth Games.

"These boxers do not deserve to be treated like this. They were totally devastated that they could not box."

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