Irish boxing impressed in World and European competition in 2017 with a handsome haul of medals won against some of the top boxers on the planet. Domestically, battles for supremacy raged at National, Provincial and County level. Irish boxing lost some of its “medal magnets”immediately after Rio 2016. Katie Taylor, Michael Conlan, Paddy Barnes and David Oliver Joyce, to name but four, all switched codes. Between them, they’ve won an astonishing 29 Olympic, World and European medals. But a new generation of stars are emerging as Team Ireland’s builds for the Tokyo 2020.
World Elite silver medallist Kellie Harrington receives an Irish Times Award and the National U/22 and Novice Championships begin at Dublin’s National Stadium. London 2012 Olympian Adam Nolan, one of Ireland’s greats, announces he’s hanging up his gloves and retiring:“It’s hard for me to write this but I’ve decided to call it a day on climbing into the ring, a decision that did not come easy and gave me plenty of restless nights over the last couple of months,” admitted the multiple Irish Elite champion and Bray BC southpaw. The International Boxing Association announce a series of rule changes and Sean McComb and Dean Gardner feature live on BoxNation in the World Series of Boxing. Macroom southpaw and European Elite bronze medallist Christina Desmond receives a Civic Reception at City Hall in Cork. Three Irish referees and judges, Cork’s John Casey, Kildare’s Dermot McDermot and Tyrone’s Ben McGarrigle, are upgraded by AIBA and the IABA issue guidelines for professional boxers returning to the amateur ranks and hand wraps at the National Elite Championships, National Registrar Stephen Connolly advises. The IABA advertise for a High-Performance Director and the National U/22 and Novice Championships conclude at the National Stadium.
The Irish female lightweight Elite title is vacant after Olympic champion Katie Taylor switches codes and brings the curtain down on the amateur version one of the most successful careers in the history of Irish sport. The belt is won by Kellie Harrington who drops down from light-welter, while Leinster impress at the Golden Girl Box Cup in Sweden. The Irish squad is named for the European U/22 Championships and a panel head east for the Pavlyukov Memorial in Russia with coaches Billy McClean and Fergal McKenna. A female Seminar is hosted at the Stadium and London 2012 Olympian Darren O’Neill is elected to the OCI Executive. O’Neill claims the heavyweight title after beating Ken Okungbowa in the National Elites on a night when Ireland’s top boxers established themselves for the year ahead. Dean Walsh nails the Best Boxer Award for the second time at the Elites. Ireland impress in Woking versus England Southern Counties and Eddie Bolger bids Auf Wiedersehen to Irish boxing to take a coaching position with Germany. The IABA wish the Wexford native the best of luck with Team Deutschland. AIBA confirm that the qualification process for the 2017 World Elite Men’s Championships is through the various Continental Championships.
The Irish Third Level Boxing Championships begins at the National Stadium and Anna Moore, Joe Hernon and Breandán Ó Conaire represent Ireland at an AIBA Commissions meeting in New Delhi, India. Cork hurling legend Niall McCarthy, a GAA All-Star, who wins the cruiserweight title, admits that it’s an honour to step into a ring at the home of Olympic, World and European champions and medallists at the Third Level event. Dylan Duffy and Keith Flavin bow out of the European U/22 Championships at the quarter-final stage in Romania as Ireland’s competitive interest in the tournament ends at the last-eight stage, while Aaron McKenna (gold), Gabriel Dossen (silver) and Cork’s Eamer Coughlan (bronze) finish in podium positions at the Pavlyukov Youth Memorial in Anapa, Russia, a competition which is also known as the mini-World Championships. Team Ireland builds for the European Men’s Elite Championships at a training camp in Belfast with Irish coach John Conlan and the Boy 4 and Junior 1 & 2 tournament begins in Dublin. The International Boxing Association begins its countdown to the World Men’s Elites in Hamburg, Germany and the final bell tolls on Girls Youth and Junior Championships at the National Stadium.
The Boy 4 and Junior 1 & 2 Championships conclude at the Stadium and the Boy 1,2, 3 competition begins. George Bates convincingly wins in the German Bundesliga in Hannover. The Irish lightweight, lining out for BSK Hannover-Seelce with Irish coach Dmitry Dmitruk in his corner, scores a unanimous decision over Ronny Beblik. Team Ireland top the table in an Elite Men’s Round Robin with France, Germany, with former Irish coach Eddie Bolger, Italy and Russia at the National Stadium. Sean McComb beats Russia’s current World Elite champion, his first of two wins over the World No. 1, Vitaly Dunaystev, while Patrick Mongan exacts a measure of revenge for Irish boxing after outpointing Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin.The Irish Youth and Junior Women’s team chalk up an impressive away win over England in Warrington. Caitlin Fryers, Orinta Ringyte, Mary Geraghty, Marguerita Nevin, Daina Moorhouse and Mary Kate Nevin have their hands raised in victory in the 11-bout international. Bernard Dunne is appointed the new IABA High-Performance Director: “My vision is to take the very best in the current system and match it with the very latest in High-Performance training so that our men and women can perform and win at European, World and Olympic level,” said the ex-WBA World super-bantam and Irish Elite champion.
Kieran Molloy and Myles Casey take home silver and bronze from the Feliks Stamm multi-nations in Warsaw, Poland and the Girls and U/18 Championships begin at the Stadium.World and European Elite silver and bronze medallists Kellie Harrington and Christina Desmond strike double gold versus world class opposition at the Nicolae Linca Memorial in Iasi, Romania. Joe Ward and Kiril Afansev top the light-heavy and heavy podiums at the same tournament in an impressive haul for Ireland under head coach Zaur Antia and Jimmy Payne. The Irish squad is named for the European Men’s Elite Championships and Dean Gardiner beats Martin Keenan in a box-off at the Stadium. The 4-1 victory secures Gardiner’s place on the Irish panel for the Europeans, which is a qualifier for the World Championships. Cork boxing honours its late coach Albie Murphy on its iconic Boxing Wall in Bishop Lucey Park. A final training session is held at the Stadium ahead of the National Juniors. Four Irish coaches – Antoinette Faye-McClean, Michael Mongan and Patrick McDonagh and Tom Murray – head to Lviv, Ukraine for an AIBA World 2-Star course.A new batch of Irish champions emerge from the Girls and U/18 Championships finals in Dublin.
The squad is named for the European Youth and Juniors Women’s Championships and Joe Ward creates Irish boxing history – again – after claiming his third European Elite gold in the Ukraine. Brendan Irvine and Kurt Walker take home double bronze to cap a fine tournament for head coach Zaur Antia and staff as Ireland finish in 4th spot in the medals table. Speaking after his treble, Ward, the only Irish boxer besides Katie Taylor to win more than one European Elite gold, said that he was very pleased with his performance in the Ukraine, adding that his aim going to the tournament was gold and his next target was World gold. The Europeans were acting as a qualifier for the World Championships with the top eight in each weight booking tickets. Ward, Irvine, Walker, Sean McComb and Dean Gardiner qualify. Irish President Michael D. Higgins congratulates Team Ireland on their performances. Meanwhile, the IABA Board of Directors releases a statement and a new rule book is ostensibly adopted.The National Junior Cadets begin at the Stadium. Olympic finalist Ken Egan is included on the IOC Athletics team and Paddy Gallagher reports that the IATBA team, which includes Cork’s Christina Desmond, are hovering up medals at the Haringey Box Cup in London.
The Monkstown BC “mini World Championships” ends in Dublin and Team Ireland impress at the European Women’s Youth and Junior Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. Daina Moorehouse and Aoibhe Carabine claim double gold in the Junior finals and Caira Breen wins bronze. Caitlin Fryers secures silver in the Youth event and Lauren Kelly bronze. Collectively, Ireland finishes third in the medals table. The National media are invited to IABA High-Performance Unit at the National Sports Campus, Abbotstown for an Elite training session in the build-up to the World Men’s Elite Championships. The Irish squad is named for the EU Women’s Championships. A training camp is announced for France. Ireland’s schoolboys maintain our proud tradition of having won medals at every European Schoolboy Championships after bringing home ten medals from the 2017 edition of the tournament in Romania. The Olympic BC, courtesy of Patrick Donovan and Patrick Sweeney, win double silver. Brooklyn Saunders, Jake Charles, Cahir Gormley, Cain Lewis, Danny McHugh, John Ward, Sean Walsh and Jordan Ward win bronze. Team manager Peter O’Donnell and Paddy Gallagher hail the team’s performances which seals a 7th place finish in the medals table and a 4th place finish in the rankings table at the 30-nation event in Valcea.
The Gormanston training camp, a very popular training camp for underage talent in Ireland, begins under Paddy Gallagher and Michael Carruth celebrates the 25th anniversary of his historic Olympic gold medal at Barcelona 1992. The Irish men’s Elite squad head to England for a World Championship training camp under head coach Zaur Antia in Sheffield. Michaela Walsh, Kellie Harrington and Grainne Walsh claim gold, silver and bronze at the EU Women’s Elite Championships in Italy, but Christina Desmond goes out at the last-eight stage to Dutch Olympic finalist Nouchka Fontjin. Five-time World Elite champion Mary Kom attends the world’s biggest all-female training camp at the St Brigid’s BC in Offaly and the Dunree Boxing Club launch an appeal following devastating flash floods in Donegal. Joe Ward guarantees himself at least bronze at the World Elite Championships in Hamburg, Germany after beating Mikhail Dauhaliavets (Belarus) on a unanimous decision in the quarter-finals to set up a last-four clash with Olympic finalists Bektimer Melikuziev of Uzbekistan. Ward has now won three World Elite medals and is the only Irish boxer remaining in Hamburg. The St Francis BC in Limerick begins its non-contact boxing classes for Special Needs athletes under head coach Ken Moore and his wife Marion.
Moate BC southpaw Joe Ward reaches his second successive AIBA World Elite final after an excellent performance versus Uzbekistan’s Rio 2016 silver medallist Bektimer Melikuziev in Hamburg, Germany but loses out to Cuba’s Olympic champion Julio La Cruz for gold in a repeat of the 2015 light-heavy World decider in Doha, Qatar. Final scores – 30-27,30-27,29-28,29-28,29-28 to Olympic champion La Cruz. Ward has now won three AIBA World Elite medals, two silver and one bronze.The Irish women’s team meet India in a test match at the National Stadium. Boxing is confirmed for the Paris 2024 Olympics – where Ireland first entered the Olympics independently in 1924 – while Ireland’s young prospects record a half a dozen wins on Day 1 of the European Junior Championships in Albena, Bulgaria. Cork’s Callum Walsh and Sligo’s Dean Clancy claim gold and silver at the European Juniors to help Ireland finish in 4th position in the medals table. Ireland loses 6-4 away to Poland in an Elite international. Ger Matthews, Dean Walsh, Michael Nevin and Martin Keenan record wins for Ireland in Kilece. The international Celtic Box Cup begins in Dungarvan, Waterford. Legendary RTE Commentator Jimmy Magee, a great friend of Irish boxing, sadly passes away.
The results of a re-run of the Ulster election are published and the IABA announces it has teamed up with over 100 sports organisations in Ireland and the UK to promote Parents in Sport Week. The Irish World Women’s Youth squad is named. Dominic O’Rourke, who has previously served as President, is elected IABA President at the IABA Convention held at the National Stadium, succeeding Pat Ryan who has served as President since 2015. IABA CEO Fergal Carruth address the Convention and calls for unity. “It is crucial that we as an organisation put an end to acrimony and come together as a united organisation,” part of his address reads. The Esker All Female BoxCup 2017 draws to a close in Dublin. Over 400 young prospects from Ireland and abroad battle it out in the capital. James McGivern (gold), Michael Nevin (gold), Kieran Molloy (silver), Dean Gardiner (silver) and Kirill Afanasev (bronze) medal at the Eindhoven Box Cup in an impressive showing. Elsewhere, Gabriel Dossen and Jordan Myers win double bronze at the European Youth Championships in Turkey. Waterford’s Larry Durand and Galway’s John Mongan get the decision at their AIBA 2-Star Referee & Judge exams in Spain.
World Elite finalists Kellie Harrington and Grainne Walsh win double gold in Tenerife, Canary Islands, and Dervla Duffy takes home bronze. Michael Carruth is honoured in Cork on the 25th anniversary of his Olympic gold medal triumph as the Rebel County rolls out the red carpet for the IABA top brass, Dominic O’Rourke, Fergal Carruth and Stephen Connelly, to mark an occasion celebrating an outstanding season for Leeside. The inaugural edition of the Wexford Box Cup begins in Bishopswater. Team Ireland secure eight medals at the Tammer multi-nations in Tampere, Finland. Michael Nevin (gold), George Bates (silver), Kieran Molloy (silver), Tony Browne (silver), Dean Gardiner (silver), Myles Casey (bronze), Wayne Kelly (bronze) and Kiril Afanasev (bronze) medal at the tournament. Belfast’s Caitlin Fryers and Kildare’s Katelynn Phelan secure double bronze at a high-quality AIBA World Women’s Youth Championships in India in Ireland’s final World outing of 2017. IABA President Dominic O’Rourke hails the performance of the Irish squad and staff in India. Over 60 boxing clubs in Ireland avail of Capital Sports Grants, while the National Senior Championships (formerly Intermediate) begin at the National Stadium in Dublin. The International Boxing Association unveils its new bylaws as the sports enters a new Olympic cycle for Tokyo 2020.
Sixteen male and female belts are claimed at the National Senior Championships, the first domestic tournament of the new season at the National Stadium. Peter O’Donnell and Lockey Gannon hail the quality of the finals. Meanwhile, the previous 11 months has seen Irish boxing take on some of the best on the planet and bring home 29 medals in World and European competition at all levels, male and female. Irish boxing is never been outside the top ten in the medals table in eight World and European tournaments in 2017. Five of those medals were European gold courtesy of Joe Ward, Michaela Walsh, Callum Walsh, Daina Moorehouse and Aoibhe Carabine. Ward goes close to World gold after reaching the World Elite light-heavy final in Hamburg. The medal haul at multi-nations level is also impressive with 9 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze banked. Combined with the silverware secured in World and European competition in 2017, Irish boxing has won 46 medals at all levels, male and female, in 2017. Irish boxing secures funding from the Regional Sports Project scheme.Meantime, the IABA Annual Awards will be hosted at the National Stadium in Dublin on February 3rd next. Cork Board President Michael O’Brien will be MC on the night. The National Elite Championships will be held twice in 2018 to facilitate Ireland’s boxers going into the qualifiers for Tokyo 2020.
The IABA wishes you all a Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year