5th COMMONWEALTH AMATEUR BOXING CHAMPIONSHIPS
(June, July, August)
CANCELLED BY THE IABA WITH THE HELP OF ELECTED ULSTERMEN AND THE ANTRIM REP
See below for the fall-out and what the papers said or didn't say...
At the end of the day why could Belfast not hold the Commonwealth Championships in early June and then Dublin hold the European Union Championships in late June 2007?
One government would foot the bill in the north and the other in the south - no financial problem...
10 days from the end of one to the start of the next - no overlap...
Ulster/Antrim to provide the manpower in Belfast - Ireland to provide the manpower for Dublin...
20 odd northern boxers getting international experience - much needed...
SO, WHY ON EARTH WAS THE BELFAST EVENT CANCELLED?
For the record - Antrim County Board were never involved/notified of any discussions to hold the EU Championships in Belfast or anywhere else - as indicated below!
|Irish News 29/08/06|
Ireland's Saturday Night
By David Kelly
02 September 2006
As the Ulster Council of the IABA meets today you do have wonder just where the sport is going (writes David Kelly).
No medals in almost a decade, little common ground on how to improve the situation and to cap it all Ulster's relationship with the governing body seems to be at an all-time low.
President Pat McCrory went to today's meeting in a state of fury following the IABA's decision not to move the EU championships, which would have allowed Ulster to run the Commonwealth Championships at the Waterfont Hall next year.
"The IABA doesn't want Ulster boxers to be successful and you can quote me on that!" fumed McCrory, on the back of a meeting with the Central Council.
McCrory is adamant that the IABA's stance has hit Ulster boxing hard.
"I'm gutted by their decision, gutted and disgusted. We could have 22 boxers competing at the Championships," he added.
"They knew that we wanted to run the championships before they had their dates in place."
He is equally angry - and with justification - at the IABA's decision to stage the Irish seniors in January, which means the weigh-ins for the Ulster seniors is on December 30, with the first fight January 2.
That is simply ridiculous.
While McCrory may vent his anger at the IABA, he surely must also realise that the current malaise in the sport ultimately falls at his - and the Council's - feet.
"We all have to take responsibility," says McCrory, who insists that - despite many views to the contrary - Ulster's boxers are being given enough competition.
That remains open to debate and frankly I fail to see how they are enjoying enough top training and high level competition.
In the meantime, McCrory revealed that he has been in talks with the Northern Ireland Sports Council about bringing a top coach to be oversee the development of our boxers.
That would surely cost in the region of around £30,000 a year and one wonders if the Sports Council are willing to back boxing to such a degree. One can only hope.
"Two weeks I had a meeting with the Northern Ireland Sports Council and I put my idea to them and they are considering it.
"I think someone fresh and without any ties coming in, a foreign coach to overlook everything is just what we need. Not an administrator as such but someone who can raise the level of the boxers.
"What you have to realise is that we (Ulster Council) don't produce the boxers, the coaches do."
McCrory also confirmed that an Ulster team would be heading to South Africa next month.
Sadly, we lost the EU jackpot
By Jack Magowan
02 September 2006
Dublin's veto on amateur boxing's Commonwealth championships coming to Belfast was neither unexpected, unjust nor discriminatory.
If Ulster is to be represented in Ireland's team for the European Union championships in Dublin nine months from now, then an embarrassing clash of dates had to be avoided.
What still baffles me is why the prestigious EU tournament never got to be an Odyssey coup
Was it not 12 months ago that the Irish ABA offered this 25-nation package to Belfast tied with blue-ribbon?
"It's true," says Dominic O'Rourke, president. "Your Sports Council chief, Eamonn McCartan, will vouch for a visit I made to Malone back then with a top team from the Association, and how close we came to making it happen.
"Why it didn't, I'll never know. McCartan and the NI Events Company sounded receptive to the idea. Even Lord Rana would have been happy to host overseas boxers in hotel comfort.
"So what reason could Ulster have had for wanting to promote the Commonwealth championships instead?
"The EU event was being handed to them on a plate."
Ace-coach Gerry Storey feels that an indecisive Council got its priorities mixed up badly, and missed the boat. Nor does he share president Pat McCrory's view that the ABA no longer want successful Ulster boxers - see David Kelly's adjoining column.
"This is absolute garbage and totally without a speck of truth," fumes O'Rourke.
"Didn't the Association change the date of last season's National championships to accommodate Ulster prior to Commonwealth Games' selection, yet entries from the North were the poorest on record.
"Now, I'm told, our dates for the 2007 Nationals are not to Ulster's liking.
"This time they're too early in the calendar, too soon after a night of Ulster Hall finals. Who ever heard of top boxers favouring two tapers in winter training when one is a more sensible option?"
For the second time in two years, McCrory called for a vote of no confidence in O'Rourke's boardroom team, but, sadly, nobody in Dublin seems to take Pat seriously these days. He couldn't get a seconder!
Just as Joe Hennigan's proposal that the Commonwealth's be given a green light for Belfast fell on deaf ears. It, too, failed to get a seconder.
Mayo-man Hennigan hopes to run against O'Rourke at next month's Irish Convention, but, like Storey, Sean Canavan thinks it'll be a one-horse race.
"Dominic is a dynamo - one of the most energetic and best presidents our Association has ever had," declared Canavan this week.
One solitary title-winner in the National Seniors, allied to another no-medal return from the Commonwealth Games, tells a sorry tale of how amateur boxing standards have slumped here in less than a decade. It was in Melbourne that England collected five gold medals, plus a silver and two bronze, but against second-division opposition, anything less would have been disappointing.
Where quality was a key-note at the recent European championships in Bulgaria, England came home with one medal a bronze.
Flyweight Ryan Lindberg, from Immaculata, arguably Ulster's brightest young amateur, will be sporting an Ireland vest at the World Juniors in Morocco, his reward for two polished wins at the Brandenburg Cup meet, and Ciaran Crossan and Carl Frampton, too, are in Germany as guests of the IABA.
Happily, Ulster is investing heavily on a two-match trip to Johannesburg next month, but will somebody please tell me where TWO teams, each of eleven boxers, would have come from had the Commonwealth championships been in Belfast?
|Irish News 06/09/06|
By Jack Magowan
09 September 2006
If this is the Year of the Dog in China, it has been a dog of a year in amateur boxing.
And astride a mountain of negativity in the game is an embattled Ulster president, Pat McCrory.
Once, Ulster was the doyen of all four provincial councils, "the flagship of the IABA," as Ireland's president put it, but that is yesterday's news.
Today, the sport here is facing a real crisis, suffocated by competitive standards at an all-time low, and an icy blast in relations between Belfast and Dublin.
And for this, prize-winning coach, Gerry Storey, has heaped most blame on what he feels is an impotent management team.
"It's true that Belfast could have hosted next summer's European Union championships," says Gerry.
"Instead, we bid for a less prestigious event just prior to the Europeans, and the ABA, quite rightly, slapped a veto on it. Ulster missed the boat badly, and should be finding fault with nobody but themselves."
Dominic O'Rourke made the 300-mile round-trip from Athy to be guest at a sparsely attended convention in Belfast, and clearly went home unimpressed. After a sometimes stormy meeting that ended in a slanging match, Ireland's president commented: "I've been here five hours, and heard little of benefit to young boxers, or the sport in general."
To which vice-president Tommy Murphy, the Mayor of Drogheda, added candidly: "There was too much argy-bargy and sword-play. I meant it when I said Ulster is now the Association's weak link. Maybe the head man's power and influence is waning, who knows?"
Nobody is more aware of the sharp decline in boxing standards than Holy Trinity's Mickey Hawkins, the coach whose omission from this year's Commonwealth Games team hinted of the absurd.
Not only does Michael agree with Storey that an autocratic Council must be held accountable for a proud sport's downward spiral, especially at Commonwealth and national level, he feels that coaching standards, too, have dropped, and need a shot in the arm.
Like an injection of new ideas, energy, and money. "Coaching methods and techniques haven't taken one step forward in five years," he sighs, "and if our coaches are not improving, how can you expect boxing standards to improve?"
Boxing people talk a lot and often say nothing, but this was one time when it made sense to listen.
"Why," asked Hawkins at the convention, "was somebody with no six-county ties allowed to box in our Senior championships out of a Belfast club in which he wasn't a member?
"And for Ulster's Games' squad to have been finalised, or ranked, in haste over the phone without President Pat knowing about it was a downright disgrace.
"Such pussy-footing around must never happen again, but you can be sure it will!"
Ulster is the ABA's richest Council with over £60,000 in the bank or £50,000 more than Leinster so what reason could there be, queried Derry Board delegates, O'Kane and Duffy, for not providing regular, and better, competition for good boxers, or being more generous with out-of-pocket expenses?
Sadly, muddled reasoning cost Belfast a golden chance of that week-long EU tournament, but chairman McCrory's attempt to clear the air sounded less than convincing, and O'Rourke and the glib-tongued Murphy won a heated argument on points. Pat, as Ulster's leader, may never win a popularity contest, but who is there strong enough to fill his shoes? Just asking!
Meanwhile, Charlie (Chuck) Flanagan, whose death has saddened us all, was a throwback from the Chapel Fields' era.
"A great old warrior and gentleman," is how Paddy Graham remembers him.
"Andy Smyth, once Britain's best referee, ranked him among the most honest boxers he ever knew."
Chuck was 90 and a Shore Road man.
By Mark Dempsey
10 September 2006
Wayne McCullough wants a new boxing deal by the end of the year or he'll quit the ring.
For the first time it seems the Pocket Rocket is thinking about life away from the ring and has already started to build up a successful coaching career.
"I'm out of contract with Dan Goosen, it was up on July 31 and I'm ready to talk to people," revealed McCullough.
"But if something doesn't happen by the end of the year then I would have to seriously consider packing it in. I need a plan and I need it quickly."
The former WBC bantamweight champion has not given up on securing a final World title shot and was furious when a meeting with Israel Vasquez fell through earlier this year.
"I had trained right up to the week of the fight and then realised the fight wasn't happening.
"But I'm ready to fight within a couple of weeks, I just need someone to come up with a deal whether that's Dan or somebody else.
"I haven't fought in 13 months and I know that if I'm to win another World title I need to get back into the ring and quickly.
"I would need a warm-up fight before a World title shot because I have always fought better when I've been active. So hopefully someone will give a good deal - I have to do what's best for me and my family."
McCullough, who turned 36 last month, remains ranked ninth in the World by the WBC and would love a shot at champion Vasquez.
"Vasquez is the best out there and after missing out earlier I would still like to get it on with him but he seems to be tied up to Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions.
"My priority is to get back in the ring and back in the ring where it means something, whether it's in the Irish community in the States or back home," he explained.
As McCullough waits for someone to revive his career, the Belfast man is enjoying his new coaching set-up, based at his new Las Vegas home, where he has converted the garage into a modern gymnasium.
While he works out with World title contenders, such as European super-featherweight champion Alex Arthur, he also revealed his dismay at the current plight of amateur boxing in Northern Ireland.
"I enjoy passing on the knowledge I gained from Eddie Futch. I had talks with Pat McCrory (Ulster president) about working with the amateurs and I considered moving back but I'm still waiting for them to call.
"It's a shame to see there is so little success now but I told them in 2001 that they had to make changes and they didn't and you can see what has happened.
"I now have world class fighters coming to train with me and if I couldn't teach them something or improve them they wouldn't stay."
He added: "They need to look at how the boxers fight, it seems they want them all to fight the same way, looking for that single punch for the computer scoring and it doesn't work for everyone. I hope they can change things because it doesn't look good for the future of the sport."
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