Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 3 November 2021
Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport And Media
Governance in Irish Athletic Boxing Association: Discussion
Mr. Ciaran Kirwan:
I believe Mr. Treacy would concur that there is probably more money being put in at club level than ever before. Obviously, it is never enough from our perspective. I understand the point the Deputy is making. I alluded to it earlier myself. The clubs are spread out. They are not just in the cities. In Mayo, we have a club in Geesala, which is about as remote as you can get. That club is very successful and has produced many champions. There tend to be traditional pockets, but that always relies on a coach, usually from the area, who brings a certain expertise or has a certain level of commitment to the sport. It is often passed down from generation to generation. If you talk to our CEO, Fergal Carruth, you can talk about his father and his brother. His father took over from Frankie Kerr, the father of Brian Kerr, the former Republic of Ireland manager. There is often a body of knowledge in these clubs, including the rural clubs. I am very keen to get as much money as we can to boxing at the local level because, with regard to the point the Deputy is making, that is where we can discover the champions.
The Deputy referred to female participation. Increased levels of female participation have been a tremendous boon to our sport. We do not have that at board level at this stage. As I conceded, that is a difficulty for us. With regard to the prospects for our women going forward, and even in the previous Olympic Games, we have Michaela Walsh, the sister of Aidan Walsh, and Aoife O'Rourke, both of whom are European medallists. They were potential medallists at those games and I am confident they will again be potential medallists in Paris in 2024.
With regard to rural areas, Cork is a very good example. Cork city was a real hotbed and stronghold of boxing for many years. In fact, the Taoiseach's father was heavily involved in boxing in Cork city, in one of the most famous clubs in Cork, the Glen Boxing Club. It is something we are always keen on. The number of boxing clubs has increased. We now have more than 360 boxing clubs. There are 28,000 participants in our sport now. In 2007, we had 10,000. Boxing has grown.