Irish boxing moves into new era on an all-island footing

Irish Amateur Boxing Association chief executive Fergal Carruth.
Neil Loughran

IRISH boxing will move into a new era on an all-island footing after a motion to allow AGMs and EGMs to take place in the North was unanimously passed – just five weeks after being rejected.

Ulster boxing chiefs were left furious back at the start of July when, at an EGM in Roscommon, club delegates voted against the same motion, 68 votes to 35.

The motion surrounded changing the wording in the company constitution from "state" to "island of Ireland" and its rejection left the Northern boxing fraternity questioning where they stood.

The Ulster Council subsequently sought an emergency meeting with NI Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to discuss the matter.

However, a further EGM was called on Saturday to host a second vote, such were the levels of astonishment at the original outcome, and this time it passed - 80 club delegates voting in favour of the motion, none opposing.

"The result is very much to be welcomed, and it is the right decision in all respects," said Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) chief executive Fergal Carruth.

"It must be acknowledged, however, that the July 10th vote created a deep sense of disquiet and distress. This will take some time to heal - a process which can begin this evening."

Those sentiments were echoed by IABA chairperson Ciaran Kirwan, who said: "This decision by Ireland's boxing clubs ensures a unified way forward is possible and achievable.

"This decision shows the unity at the heart of Irish boxing, and the boxing family's ability to be progressive and forward-thinking."

News of the result was also welcomed by Sport NI chief executive Antoinette McKeown, who highlighted the "huge part" boxers from the North have enjoyed through the years.

"We are pleased that the IABA EGM has taken this decision.

"Boxers in Northern Ireland play a huge part in the success of the sport across the island, and it is right that the organisation reflects that in how and where it conducts its business.

"Sport NI remains concerned on other serious issues including governance. We will continue to work with Sport Ireland and other stakeholders to ensure these matters are resolved, to protect the integrity of the sport and to ensure it continues to flourish with the record breaking success seen at the recent Commonwealth Games."

That original vote on July 10 came moments after IABA members had overwhelmingly voted against reform proposals, a landslide outcome which played a significant part in the resignation announcement from Carruth and Kirwan earlier this week.

Carruth was appointed chief executive in 2013 while Kirwan, a solicitor by profession, has served as chairperson of the IABA since 2019, having served as a director since 2014. Both men will step down on September 2.

In a statement, Carruth – brother of Olympic gold medallist Michael - admitted he was leaving the post with "more than a little regret".

He said: "Having been involved with boxing all my life, serving as CEO of the IABA has been the privilege of a lifetime, especially given all the success enjoyed by Irish boxing in the ring during this time.

"I am leaving with more than a little regret but believe that there are those within the sport who do not recognise the importance of compliance with the highest standards of corporate governance, which are vital in underpinning the growth and development of our wonderful sport.

"I hope that the decision to step down may serve as a catalyst for necessary change and that the Irish boxing family finds a way to maximise its significant potential in the future."