100 years of Irish Olympic boxing: the team of LA 1932.

22 days to the first bell in #Paris2024

We’re celebrating Irish boxing’s Olympic centenary by revisiting every single #TeamIreland boxing team since Paris 1924.

Now, we revisit LA 1932, and the third successive Games at which Ireland came within a hair’s breadth of our first Olympic medal.

117 events in 20 disciplines, comprising 14 sports, were part of the Olympic program in 1932. In one of two Equestrian jumping events (team competitions) no medals were awarded.

Boxing took place at the Grand Olympic Auditorium, a venue steeping in the sweet science.  Its grand opening, on August 5, 1925, and was a major media event, attended by non other than Jack Dempsey. It was also a filming location for iconic boxing films such as The Champ, Raging Bull, Rocky, Rocky II and Rocky III.

Paddy Hughes was the first into the ring in LA, but he was beaten by Argentina’s Carlos Alberto Pereyra in the bantamweight class, while Ernie Smith received a bye into the quarter-finals where he dropped a points decision to Argentina’s Carmelo Robledo, who went on to claim gold after beating Germany’s Josef Schleinkofer in the featherweight final.

Four years prior to the LA Games, Robledo was beaten by Ireland’s Frank Traynor in the quarter-finals at the Amsterdam Olympics. Welterweight Larry Flood also lost out in southern California, while Jim Murphy, boxing in the light-heavyweight class, was the only Irish boxer to record a victory.

Murphy, who received a bye into the last-eight, beat John Miller of the USA in the quarter-finals, but was then retired injured in the first round of his semi-final with Italy’s Gino Rossi – who lost to David Carstens (South Africa) in the final. The injury also forced Murphy to withdraw from the box-off for bronze with Denmark’s Peter Jorgensen.

85 boxers from 18 nations competed across eight weight categories at the 1932 Games between August 9th to 13th of that year. Argentina stunned the world of amateur boxing after securing two gold and one silver medal to finish on top of the medals table ahead of the USA at the Olympic Auditorium venue.

The ref was inside the ring for the 1932 Games, as opposed to sitting on a high stool outside the square circle, and in a new innovation boxers wore red and green ribbons around their waist. American heavyweight Jack Dempsey, who was of partial Irish descent, was one of the celebrities that attended the X Olympiad.

Ireland claimed two gold medals in LA, with Pat O’Callaghan winning his second gold in-a-row in the hammer throw and Bob Tisdall finishing on top of the podium in the 400m hurdles in a world record time of 51.7. However, the record was not recognised under the rules as Tisdall clipped a hurdle en route to victory.

The 1932 Games marked the last occasion that an Irish athlete competed at the Olympics before WW2 as Ireland did not enter the 1936 Games in Berlin. A number of publications, particularly in the USA, have reported that Ireland boycotted the 1936 Olympiad.

Team Ireland, LA 1932

Paddy Hughes, Bantamweight, Men, who achieved a 9th placed finish.

Ernie Smith, Featherweight, Men, who achieved a 5th place finish

Larry Flood, Welterweight, Men, who achieved a 9th placed finish.

Jim Murphy, Light-Heavyweight, Men, who achieved a 4th placed finish.

Jim Murphy became the third Team Ireland boxer in as many games to finish 4th, and come home without a medal. Until the 1948 Games, losing semi-finalists boxed for bronze.

The 1932 Olympic Games were held in the middle of the Great Depression and, given the transport links of the time, in the relatively remote region of California. Consequently, participation in the Games was the lowest since 1904, with only half as many athletes taking part as had in 1928.