Time for change in Ulster boxing say election hopefuls Kevin Duffy and Charlie Toland

Charlie Toland is hoping to replace Sadie Duffy as secretary of the Ulster Council, when Kevin Duffy is running for the presidency. Picture by Hugh Russell
Neil Loughran

A TWO-MAN team hoping to take over the top posts in Ulster Boxing have claimed they will try to improve the sport “from the bottom up” if elected.

Derry man Kevin Duffy has declared his intention to run for the post of president, with Charlie Toland going for secretary.

Current president Paul McMahon and secretary Sadie Duffy have held the positions since 2009, but Duffy and Toland feel they are the right men to deliver change at the top of the provincial body.

Election papers are out this week, but it has come to light that several clubs across the north could be ineligible to vote due to issues surrounding affiliation forms, sparking huge debate on social media over the weekend.

Indeed, whether or not that matter is resolved before the Ulster Council congress in Omagh on August 13 could have a significant bearing on the outcome of the election.

And Duffy, an Ulster Council member since 2011, has called on boxing people to get behind his bid for the presidency.

“For me, it’s about bringing it into a new era, and improving it right from the bottom up, holding people to account,” said the St Joseph’s club stalwart.

“Over the last number of weeks and months there has just been too much negativity around boxing. We want to channel our energies into the positives.

“We all know about the success of boxing here, but unfortunately that is undermined sometimes by the internal politicking and the lack of communication within the organisation.

“I have worked closely with the current president over the last number of years and I can recognise the work on the ground that he has done, and the passion he has for boxing.

“But the reality is there’s a lot of change has gone on within boxing in the last number of years, not least because of the money that has been put into it through public funding.

“What comes with that is the necessity to change within the organisation, particularly in terms of governance and how the organisation is run. For some people going through that change, or realising that change is necessary, has been difficult.”

Last November McMahon admitted there had been a “breakdown in relationship” between the provincial body and the Ulster High Performance unit at Jordanstown.

And Toland feels that gap needs to be bridged as soon as possible if future generations are to fulfil their potential.

“We feel we can bring about positive changes and also bridge the gap with the county boards to develop boxing again at grassroots level,” said the Ormeau Road coach.

“We feel that’s not being done. There’s also a huge gap with the high performance unit – there’s no relationship there whatsoever.

“That high performance committee has been a fantastic tool for building relationships and developing partnerships between county boards.

“There’s no development programmes in place for any of our junior, cadet, youth boxers – we need regional academies in place for them.”


The Northern Ireland team which won four medals - two bronze and two silver - at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas, along with coaches John Conlan and Pete Brady


ULSTER High Performance coach John Conlan has hasiled his young Commonwealth Youth Games team after they landed four medals in the Bahamas.

Light-fly John Moran (Illies GG) and bantam Colm Murphy (St George’s) bring back bronze, while on Sunday night Gleann welter Anthony Johnston and Holy Trinity middleweight Kane Tucker just missed out on gold, both losing via split decisions.

Errigal’s Dominic Bradley and Holy Trinity’s Kian Bittles both fell before the medal stages but left it all in the ring, and Conlan says the Northern Ireland team return home better for their experience in the Bahamas.

“I’m disappointed they all didn’t get gold medals, but I set the bar high,” he said.

“It’s a decent enough result because three of the team are all the younger age. A lot of the English guys are 18 going on 19 later in the year.

“At that age group, that one year is massive in terms of the physical presence of each athlete, but also the ability and experience.

“Also, four of our guys have never been at an international tournament – only Anto and Kane – so when you consider it was a first international tournament, a small regional team against some of the big teams, they performed really well.”

Conlan and fellow coach Pete Brady had the team training at Jordanstown for five weeks before they left for the Commonwealths, and have seen all six fighters make huge strides.

Every one of them had targeted gold, but Conlan insists the experience gained during the past week will stand to them for the rest of their careers.

“They’ve been phenomenal,” he continued.

“They’ve trained really hard, they’ve been a great bunch of kids to work with. Myself and Pete have been on a journey with them and watching them improve, develop and mature has been fantastic.

“The whole point of these tournaments is to develop our boxers to become world class elite athletes, and this gives them some experience of a multi-sport event and the pressures of being on a big stage.

“We had a team meeting on Sunday night and they’re all fine. Everybody came here with the aspiration to get the gold medal and when you don’t achieve that, it takes a bit out of you, but that’s part of the learning process.

“A calm sea never made a good sailor. Sometimes you need to suffer defeats, experience that, and go back to the gym and work that little bit harder.”

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