Irish squad in Thailand

Irish squad in Thailand.

The Irish Athletic Third-Level Boxing Association (IATBA) had to settle for double bronze after Christina Desmond and Kenny Okungbowa lost their semi-finals at the World University Championships in Thailand.

Okungbow was beaten by France’s Dylan Bregeon in a 91kg slug fest at Chaing Mai University.

Neither man had to go looking for each other, with the Athlone heavyweight twice needing attention from the ringside medic in the first round for wounds to his brow sustained in his quarter-final win.

Bregeon’s jab proved to be his most effective weapon, while Ogungbowa found the target with the majority of the power shots throughout the three rounds.

Kenny Okungbowa

Kenny Okungbowa

The 2015 Irish Elite finalist went for broke going down the final stretch, backing his opponent up against the ropes, but Bregeon smothered the attacks en route to victory.

Earlier today, Desmond was beaten on a majority decision by Polish middleweight Natalia Hollinska.

The Cork southpaw, landing heavy shots, took the first two rounds across the board, with the Chinese R&J awarding her a 10-8 frame in the first.

Christina Desmond and opponent today

Christina Desmond and opponent today

But Holinska won the last two stanzas, with Desmond received a public warning for holding with 30 seconds remaining in the final round.

The final scores read 38-37,37-37,38-37 to Holinska following a see-saw four rounder.

Desmond remarked that she was proud to wear an Irish vest at the 7th edition of the tournament and thanked all for their well wishes.

“So I’ll have to settle for a bronze medal!After four very tough rounds with an older more experienced women, a public warning in her favour separated the final judgement, said the Irish Youth Olympian and World Youth silver medallist.

“I am very proud to have worn the Irish singlet out here in Thailand on behalf of my country, my college (Limerick Institute of Technology), my county and of course my family.

“For me, this is my first Senior International medal and at 20 years of age it will be definitely one to remember.

“Thank you al  for all the messages, well wishes, phone calls and encouragement over the past number of days, for now it’s time to explore a bit of this beautiful country,” added the current Irish Elite champion.

Okungbowa’s and Desmond’s bronze medals are the first medals Irish boxing has won at this level.

“Kenny gave an excellent performance considering that he went into the ring with two cuts over his eyes. That would be enough to cause most people to give a walkover but that thought was never even in Big Kenny’s mind, said Irish coach Paddy Gallagher.

“Therefore he had to roll his way in under the 6ft 5inch Frenchman. This he did as best he could but he also had to contend with not upsetting the referee who cautioned him for the head being low.

“The cuts opened in the first round and the referee brought Kenny to the ringside doctor a few times throughout the bout but each time, he was allowed to continue.

“Overall, I am very happy with his performance today. He left it all in the ring and that’s all we can ask for. Likewise with Christina earlier today. Two excellent performances by both boxers who will be bringing home our first World Universty Championships medals,” added Gallagher, views echoed by team manager Paul Geoghegan.

Anton Zaitcev of Russia and Chin Nein-Chen of Chinese Taipei won the corresponding heavyweight and .middleweight semi-finals this morning.

Today’s defeats brings Ireland’s competitive interest in the tournament to an end. Desmond and Okungbowa will be presented with their medals during Friday’s finals.


7th World University Championships Thailand, October 3/8

October 3rd

Last 16

75kg: Conor Wallace Ireland) lost to Valerii Kharlamov (Ukraine) TKOI3

October 4th


75kg Christina Desmond (Ireland) beat Zura Kussainova (Kazakhstan) 3-0

91kg Ken Okungbowa (Ireland) beat Tadas Tamasuskas (Lithuania) 2-1

October 5th


51kg Ceire Smith (Ireland) lost to Wassila Lkhadiri (France) 1-2

60kg Gary McKenna (Ireland) lost to Temirian Osmonov (Kyrgyzstan) 0-3

October 6th


75kg Christina Desmond (Ireland) lost to Natalia Hollinska (Poland) 0-2

91kg Ken Okungbowa (Ireland) lost to Dylan Bregeon (France) 0-3


51kg Ceire Smith – Cavan BC & DCU
60kg Gary McKenna – Old School BC Monaghan & University of Ulster
75kg Christina Desmond – Fr Horgans BC & LIT (Bronze)
75kg Conor Wallace – St Monica’s Newry & University of Ulster
91kg Kenneth Okungbowa – Athlone BC & AIT (Bronze)

Team manager: Paul Geoghegan
Coach: Paddy Gallagher