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:
The simple answer is that in boxing, unlike in many other sporting organisations, we run only amateur participation. In the case of most other sports, the Olympic Games are the end of the process, whereas in boxing, there is both amateur and professional. Traditionally, not just in Ireland but in every country in the world in which boxers participate, there has always been the lure of the professional game. We could go back to Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and George Foreman. This applies to all boxers. It is not a new phenomenon in Ireland. Even in the case of our Olympic medallists, approximately 70% or 80% have gone professional. We have always been in competition with the professional game.
In recent times, some of the promoters of the professional game, in the UK in particular, have grown larger and larger and put down attractive incentives. I am pleased to say, as Mr. Treacy will probably attest, we have thus far managed to retain our Olympic team from Tokyo and I am hopeful that will remain the case. It is a difficult issue that is, in many ways, unique to boxing. The pathways in boxing are difficult, and those who do not quite make it into the high performance unit will often feel disillusioned because it just has not got the size or capacity to deal with those ranked number three or four.
It has always been an issue. We resist professional boxing insofar as we can and we encourage our athletes. When Kellie Harrington was asked whether she was going to go professional, she gave a very clear answer that it was not attractive to her and that she was quite happy to remain as an amateur with us. I look forward to watching her career over the next few years.