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In The Irish News on May 5 1997: David Lowry and Billy Cowan strike boxing gold

HARDY FLOP...WBO/IBF champion Prince Naseem Hamed celebrates with a victory flip after his first round destruction of Sunderland’s Billy Hardy at the Nynex Arena, Manchester

ULSTER’S boxers struck double gold yesterday in the Karl Leman international tournament in Constanta, Estonia and return home this morning with a glittering six-medal haul overall.

Reigning Ulster champions, David Lowry and Billy Cowan (Monkstown) stood on the gold medal rostrum after hard-fought points victories over Thomas Cyril (France) and Ukraine’s Yuri Nuzenko.

Featherweight Lowry, from Wayne McCullough’s old amateur club Albert Foundry, had earlier defeated Israel’s Kurginian Artur by a nine-point margin in the semis.

Cowan (29), from Ballyclare, has been enjoying a fine 1997 season capped - until now - by his brilliant win over Ireland’s Olympic welterweight Francis Barrett in the National Championships in Dublin in March.

He had a tough task en-route to final glory, edging out Latvia’s Alesandros Bogdanecs 5-4 on Saturday.

Ulster coach Frank Gervin said the gold medal tally could have been higher but for a controversial stoppage in Buncrana super heavyweight Tom Clare’s battle with Estonian Igor Shibalov.

Immaculata’s Gerard Mc Manus was Ulster’s other silver medalist, losing in the light-fly final to Sergei Tasimon (Estonia).

Liam Cunningham (Saints flyweight) and Holy Family/Golden Gloves light welter Glenn McLarnon collected bronze in the semis.

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PRINCE Naseem Hamed is not the only man with unification on his mind, after Saturday night’s show at Manchester’s Nynex Arena.

Steve Collins was thinking on similar lines, after watching WBC super-middleweight champion Robin Reid come of age in his successful defence against York’s Henry Wharton.

Reid against WBO holder Collins is now the hottest super-middle fight around at present.

Should the Dubliner secure a match against America’s WBA holder Frankie Liles this summer, three titles could be on the line, if he gets to meet Reid.

“I envy Naseem in unifying the belts,” said Collins, whose younger brother Paschal was a six-round points winner over Chesterfield’s Martin Jolley on the Naseem undercard.

“I want to get involved in getting these kind of fights.

“If Reid thinks he’s ready then we’ll fight, and I would want it sooner rather than later, because he is getting better every time I see him.”

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ST Malachy’s College on the Antrim Road in Belfast will next week echo again to the sound of the bell and the smack of leather. 

No, it’s not the return of that age old “educational” tradition the strap but the welcome return of amateur boxing to the college which boasted its own gym half a century ago. 

Next week it’s the turn of the nearby Star ABC to host a top class tournament in the sports hall on Friday night (8.00). 

In addition to the ten bout bill, the Star, in conjunction with the Antrim County Board (IABA), will bring along two experienced coaches and a squad of young boxers for an afternoon talk and fistic demonstration to three second year classes. 

The Star club was once an institution in the sport under trainee Akkie Kelly and the glory days are back, thanks to the sterling efforts of Jimmy McMahon, James Blakeley, Micky Corr and a hard working Star committee. 

Their clubrooms in Hillman Street in the New Lodge are home to dozens of budding prospects. 
Star pupil this season must be 19 year- old Ulster and Irish champion, James Rooney.

St Malachy’s College will also be peeling back the pages of history when the timekeeper’s bell rings and the “Seconds Out” command echoes round the sports hall. 

Fifty years ago this seat of learning established its own boxing club. 

“I was able to do a bit of research through the annual school magazine the Collegian,” said Star member and school maintenance officer, Paul McAuley “and as far as I can establish the college boxing club began properly in 1947.” 

Paul, whose son Gerard is a more-thanuseful young Star pugilist, unearthed some interesting facts on the college’s association with the sport. 

“Charlie McGlade, who owned the sports shop in Gresham Street, was one of the main men involved in setting it up. 

“He was the trainer and with the bursar, Fr McAllister, Fr McHugh and “old boy” Danny Mageean got it properly organised. 

“Fr McAllister is now a retired PP over in St Brigid’s and we are trying to get him to come along to the show. In fact anyone who had any link with the club is more than welcome.” 

In the 1947 Collegian, Gabriel Conlon recorded that “never before in the history of the college has that fascinating sport – boxing – been properly organised till this year. 

“The college authorities expressed their warm approval of the idea and speedily provided us with all the necessary equipment.” 

The club flourished in the early 50s. 

School photos – “action photographs taken at one thousandth of a second” reads the Collegian – depict squads of young boxing Malachians. 

The 1952 mag shows 16 scholarly exponents of the noble art. Not all first names were included but some of the boxers mentioned are: Pat Murphy, R McGrady, Malachy and Kevin McKavanagh, Jim Coyle, Mackle and Doyle (“promising novices”), H McQuillan, B Kearney, Jim Reilly, Sean Cunningham, John Doherty, Frank Cahillane and Danny Mageean. 

The first show that season was against the Holy Family club on the New Lodge Road in November with a return match, which the college won 7-5, a fortnight later. 

A year previous college secretary John Barton recorded that the college were only pipped for the Down and Connor Little Flower trophy by the great St Malachy’s Youth Club side. 

The college had nine boxers in the finals – four victorious. Next week’s event is a joint fundraiser between the Star club and another team who are making great strides at present, the college athletic squad. 

“We would be delighted to hear from anyone who was involved with the past college boxing club. 

It would be a walk down memory lane for them,” added Paul McAuley. 

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