Newly Sanctioned Group, Breaking Down Boundaries for the IABA

Claire Mc Auley

The Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) sanctioned the creation of a new equality and governance advisory group (EGAG) in December 2015. The Groups purpose is to promote equality and to eliminate sectarianism and racism within the sport.

The IABA Chief Executive Officer Fergal Carruth explains; In December 2013 we commissioned a detailed report into examining sectarianism and racism in boxing in Ulster. As a result the IABA learnt some valuable lessons which they have acted upon and now wish to put in place further measures and procedures to mitigate and eliminate any incidents of such nature within our sport.  We at the IABA are making a commitment to Equality and Good Governance and this will be demonstrated through not only the work of this group, but the changes to our programmes and amendments to our procedures.

Pat Ryan, IABA President and EGAG chair is excited to be leading the group and had this to say; ” The IABA want to be at the forefront of best practice in Equality and Governance, and the creation of this group, shows our commitment to setting the high standards, both in and outside of the ring. We have a lot of hard work ahead, but this mindset of being the best, is part of the boxing mentality. Our boxers have produced world class results in the ring, something the IABA intend to deliver on, for our membership and anyone entering our sport.

One of the major pieces of work the group is working on is to accommodate boxers from Northern Ireland who might want to represent Team GB at Elite Level.  They group has corresponded with England, Scotland, Wales and the British Amateur Boxing to outline what the current route is to fight for Team GB. And they are pleased to say yes there is a clear route to GB.  There are still further issues around the route and the implications that it has for any boxer which need investigated, but further discussions with all relevant stakeholders including AIBA are planned to make sure the IABA can clearly signpost the route to GB and also highlight any issues that boxers would need to be aware of.

The Current Route to GB for any Northern Irish born Boxer is outlined in the table below:

Stages on Route to fight for Team GB in the Olympics

Stakeholders Rules and Regulations to be adhered to. Comments/Notes
Stage 1- Entry to English, Welsh and Scottish National Championship Event(s)


England, Scotland and Welsh Boxing Association(s) Affiliation Regulations

Competition Rules and Eligibility Requirements

·         Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

All boxers would have to affiliate to a club in either England, Scotland or Wales

If they affiliate to an English Club, they must have boxed a minimum of 2 bouts for an English Club before they can enter the English championships

If they Affiliate to a Welsh Club, they must be resident in Wales for a minimum of 24 months before the championship

If they affiliate to a Scottish Club, there are no championship regulations around entry other than being member of a Scottish club.

Generally, a boxer must win the championship event to progress within the system and to be considered as eligible for the team GB Programme.

Stage 2- Representation for the Home Nation Country at International Competitions and Events AIBA, BABA, England, Scotland and Welsh Boxing Association(s)


AIBA regulations- specifically change of nationality rule

Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

If a boxer is also to be considered for the Team GB programme they have to show evidence of competing for their country.  For a Boxer from another country, in this case Northern Ireland, this means once they win the championship in either England, Scotland or Wales that they need to make a choice at this stage within their career regards which nation to fight for.
Stage 3- Entry to GB Programme British Amateur Boxing Association

England, Scotland and Welsh Boxing Association(s)


GB Programme Criteria

Good Friday Agreement and the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

Entry to the Team GB Programme is dependent on a number of factors, but before they can be called to attend a selection event at Sheffield they must have won a championship and be fighting for their country. The current structure means that a boxer from Northern Ireland has to box for either England, Scotland or Wales.
Stage 4- Representation at the Olympics’ for Team GB.



England, Scotland and Welsh Boxing Association(s)

British Olympic Council

Commonwealth Games Council(s)


AIBA regulations

Olympic Council Regulations

Commonwealth Games regulations

If a boxer from Northern Ireland currently boxes for England, Scotland or Wales in order to enable them the chance to fight for GB at the Olympics, currently that would mean that they couldn’t fight for Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games, so this is a further discussion point with all relative parties.

The Group is tasked with circumnavigating this highly complex issue with multiple stakeholder and layers of regulations.  Pat Ryan the IABA President and EGAG chair is pleased at their progress so far.  Our discussions with the British home nations has been very positive and all parties are keen to be legislatively compliant with the Good Friday Agreement, British Amateur Boxing has also been accommodating.  But the next stage for the EGAG is to have further discussions with AIBA and the British Olympic Council and international governing associations to ensure that we make this route as clear as possible without infringing on any international regulations.

The group have to deliver an action plan of 10 key recommendations to help create the optimal inclusive sporting environment for all people involved within the sport;

  1. To identify the implications of the Good Friday Agreement for national representation and implement any recommendations including devising a plan to accommodate Ulster boxers who might represent Team GB at elite level.
  2. To develop an official procedure, specifically designed to deal with incidents/potential incidents of sectarian and racist intimidation. This should include the development of penalties for failure to abide by the agreed procedure.
  3. To develop a protocol and code of conduct around the flying of national and contentious symbols.
  4. To restrict team colours to two rather than three; and that displays at clubs should be limited to these colours. A clubs failure to concede to these measures should be subject to a grievance procedure.
  5. To carry out a focused review of the governance structures in Ulster.
  6. To invest in community relations training for coaches and volunteers.
  7. To hold formal discussions with Sport NI and Local authorities in relation to the establishment of safe and neutral championship/boxing show venues.
  8. To develop a formal social media policy/code of conduct.
  9. To establish a formal selection process for coaches for the Commonwealth Games.
  10. To ensure that the Ulster Boxing Council, County Boards and all boxing clubs in Ulster continue to adhere strictly to the child protection policy and procedure in alignment with legislation and best practice.

The Equality and Governance Advisory Group is supported by an Operations Manager for Ulster, funded by Sport NI; further questions or queries on the work of the group can be directed to Mrs. Clare McAuley on Email- clare@iaba.ie or Telephone: +44 28(90) 383224.