Seconds Out: Belfast and Sheffield show boxing future in safe hands
THERE was glamour and grit in equal measure as the best of the Belfast Met’s Boxing Academy went toe-to-toe with a Sheffield City Boxing Club select on Friday night.
Both cities are renowned for the prowess of the pugilists produced, the Steel City gifting us the likes of ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed and recently-retired Kell Brook in recent decades. And, on evidence of Friday’s fare at the Clayton Hotel, the future of the sport in both Belfast and Sheffield is in safe hands.
Ten bouts took place, with Immaculata’s Francis Regan, Clonard’s James Gray and the Belfast Met quartet of Like Moore-Glass, Leon McMahon, Anthony Taggart and Criostoir de Brun all having their hands raised.
The evening also included two skills contests, which featured Belfast Met pair Jordan Johnson and Dylan Bell against each other, while Corey Walsh (Belfast Met) and Immaculata’s Peter Ward also shared the ring before an expectant crowd.
Earlier in the day, a special weigh-in took place at Belfast City Hall, with Olympic bronze medallist and former Belfast Met Boxing Academy student Aidan Walsh running the rule over those ready to trade leather.
The gala was a showcase of the talent on offer at the academy, and the opportunities on offer at Belfast Metropolitan College for those looking to hone their boxing skills while also acquiring qualifications that can lead them to employment.
Belfast Metropolitan College’s Boxing Academy is the first full time academic boxing academy in Ireland, welcoming its first intake in September 2015.
Students study towards a vocational fitness industry qualification along with essential skills Maths and English, while also benefitting from coaching courtesy of the legendary Gerry Storey and former British featherweight champion Martin Lindsay.
“The gala is a terrific opportunity for our young Academy boxers to showcase the incredible skills they have learned while at the college,” said Louise Warde Hunter, chief executive and principal of Belfast Metropolitan College.
“Our Academy boxers have put in hard work and dedication and it was wonderful to welcome their friends and families to celebrate a fantastic night of boxing success and see these young athletes put their talents on display.
“It was also a great pleasure to welcome boxers from Sheffield City Boxing Club, who took part in matches and delivered an electric evening for our guests. The strong partnership between our two boxing academies allows both sides to learn from each other and gain new skills, knowledge and abilities both in and out of the ring.
“Belfast Metropolitan College also deeply appreciates the special relationship and the exciting opportunities on offer through our collaboration with Belfast City Council, especially in the Council’s boxing strategy for greater Belfast.
“We extend our thanks to Belfast City Council as valued partners in the enhancement of the sporting offer, and in particular in boxing, at our college.”
These sentiments were echoed by Brendan Warburton, head coach at Sheffield City Boxing Club.
"Everyone at the club is really looking forward to locking horns once again with our friends from Belfast Met.
“This will be the first meeting between the two clubs since before the pandemic and I think the lockdown really brought home the importance of health, fitness and the power of sport in general.
“We are all expecting another great night of amateur boxing and we look forward to inviting Belfast over to Sheffield for a return match later in the year."
Francis Regan (Immaculata) bt Kevin Rodgers (Sheffield) via split decision
James Gray (Clonard) bt Roman Rodgers (Sheffield) via split decision
John Rodgers (Sheffield) bt Jamie Maxwell (Belfast Met) via unanimous decision
Luke Moore-Glass (Belfast Met) bt Che Devine (Oliver Plunkett) via unanimous decision
Leon McMahon (Belfast Met) bt Callum Terry (Sheffield) via unanimous decision
Anthony Taggart (Belfast Met) bt Daniel Ramsey (Emerald) via unanimous decision
Criostoir de Brun (Belfast Met) bt Hamza Sabir (Sheffield) via unanimous decision
Jack Peckett (Sheffield) bt Ben Patton (Belfast Met) via unanimous decision
RESPECTED AUTHOR TO HOST BOXING TALK
RENOWNED boxing historian Barry Flynn is hosting a special event at Belfast’s Linenhall library tomorrow night, examining the deep connection between the city and a sport that has come to define it.
Ireland - and Belfast in particular - has always been famous for its boxers, producing champions through the ages who have brought pride and glory to the streets that shaped them.
Barry Flynn, who has been writing about boxing for over two decades, including chronicling the life and career of the John McNally – Ireland’s first boxing Olympic medallist who passed away in April - will lead the conversation, recalling the boxers, clubs and characters of the city.
“It’s very timely, after John sad passed a few months back, because there’s a whole generation of boxers from the middle part of the 20th century - the likes of John Caldwell, Freddie Gilroy, John McNally - all that generation is passing one by one,” said Flynn.
“We’re going to look right back to Victorian times to see how boxing, or ‘fisticuffs’ as it was known in those days, grew in the city, and the areas of the city where fighting became more or less a way of life.
“We’ll also look at some other stories like John L Sullivan coming to the Ulster Hall in 1888 and how the Ulster Hall was considered too upper class by the powers-that-be to allow boxing in. There’s a real slice of social history surrounding how Belfast became a boxing hotbed, and the origins of that.
“It will be great to talk about some of the names and occasions that contributed along the way.”
‘From the terraced streets to the world stage: our proud and rich boxing story’ will be held in the performance area of the library, beginning at 7pm, and can be also be accessed online, via Zoom. Tickets cost £5.
To book, visit https://linenhall.com/events/from-the-terraced-streets-to-the-world-stage-our-proud-and-rich-boxing-story/