Irish boxing facing 'pivotal choice' at EGM warns IABA statement

The outcome of Sunday's IABA EGM in Roscommon could have a big bearing on the future of amateur boxing in Ireland. Picture by Mark Marlow
Neil Loughran

IRISH boxing faces a “pivotal choice” as damaging restrictions loom unless Irish Athletic Boxing Asociation (IABA) members back reform measures at Sunday’s crucial EGM in Roscommon.

Those are the words of warning from board of directors chairman Ciarán Kirwan and chief executive Fergal Carruth in a joint statement issued yesterday.

Irish Minister of Sport Jack Chambers has told the IABA that if a proposal to expand the board does not receive the required 75 per cent support from club delegates at the meeting, the association will be subject to an immediate 15 per cent cut in funding.

On top of that, the IABA and clubs will not be able to access dormant accounts funding, or sports capital and equipment grants. Funding through local authorities will be curtailed, and an increasing level of funding cuts will be introduced over the coming months.

Sport Ireland Return to Sport grants, which this year enabled the IABA to pay the full insurance and affiliation costs for every affiliated club in the country, will also be available.

The statement ends by pointing out that that the five IABA representatives on the current board of directors - outgoing president Dominic O’Rourke, Ted Barry (Munster), Andrew Duncan (Leinster), Charlie Toland (Ulster) and Tom Geraghty (Connacht) - “have pledged their wholehearted backing for reform”.

According to the statement, delegates from Ireland’s 338 affiliated clubs will be asked to vote on the composition of the IABA’s board, expanding the board from its current 10 members to 12.

If approved, this newly-constituted board will include six independent members, along with athlete and coach representatives, while also addressing its lack of female representation. The new board would then be tasked with deciding how to deal with the remaining recommendations in the recently published IABA governance review.

“The scale of the choice facing Irish boxing shouldn’t be underestimated, but with all change comes opportunity,” said Kirwan.

“Boxers create and exploit opportunities in every bout. So, too, must we. Like any bout, this won’t be easy - but the prospect of a battle has never daunted any boxer or coach. We must be as fearless.

“The consequences of choosing not to reform, or choosing not to enter our second phase, are grim. The Minister for Sport has been very clear - boxing will face funding cuts. Boxing will be constrained.

“We cannot allow this fate for Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport - indeed, we cannot allow this fate for the sport which has brought Ireland two World Championship titles this year. The power to prevent this fate lies with every club in Ireland - the decision is theirs, and theirs alone.”

IABA chief executive Carruth added: “We know that proposed changes to the office of the president have concerned many in the boxing family.

“The proposals will elevate the office of the president above politics within our sport. The office of the president of the IABA will, if motion one passes, become the jewel in the crown of Irish boxing.

“The president will be an ambassador for boxing, not only across Irish society, but an ambassador for Irish boxing across the world.”

The statement confirms that 60 voting delegates must attend the EGM and 75 per cent of those must support the motion in order for it to pass.

“The IABA recognises the challenges in uniting the Irish boxing family in a change of this magnitude, given staunch opposition to the proposals.”