Boxing champion Bernard Dunne: “I made the right decision to leave the IABA”

Former world boxing champion Bernard Dunne has said he will not return to the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) despite a request to reconsider his stepping down as head of the High Performance Unit (HPU).

e filed a written complaint with IABA last November, alleging that its position had been undermined by an unsigned “SWOT analysis position paper.” It has been claimed that this had been written after a survey of Irish boxing and he considered the analysis extremely damaging to his position.

Dunne, 42, believed the intent of the writing – for which he was not consulted – was to discredit him both personally and professionally.

In his complaint, he named two IABA board members he believed had a hand in drafting the letter, who he alleged had drawn some damaging and unfounded conclusions regarding his position.

Dunne has not returned to his job as director of the High Performance Unit since the Tokyo Olympics, and after a scheduled hearing on his grievance against the two board members was recently postponed, he decided to step down from the position.

In a statement released last Wednesday, IABA said its acceptance of his resignation was tentative as it had asked him to reconsider his decision.

But speaking to today, the former super-bantamweight champion said he made “the right decision” and he hopes the remaining coaches and athletes would have the support they need to succeed.

“I think I made the right decision for the people I care about, which are the athletes, the coaches and my own personal family. It was the right decision,” he said.

“Things didn’t happen overnight. It was long ago. My only concern would be the trainers driving the ship there. They need to be protected and supported so they can just do their job because they are an excellent coaching team that is still there,” he added.


Former world boxing champion Bernard Dunne. Photo: Sportsfile

Dunne said he spoke to the coaches before retiring because he wanted them to hear the news from him.

“I spoke to all my coaches and some athletes. So when I spoke to the coaches and athletes, I told them what my decision was and what I would do. I did that before handing in my resignation. I wanted them to hear it from me. I would have great respect for the people who work in this high-performance system.

“They are a world-class team. The coaches and support staff and the athletes themselves have high expectations and want to be successful,” he said.

“My concern would be that the guys who are still there are now protected from outside influences and allowed to do the work that we all know they can do because they have a world-class team.

“And if they’re allowed to focus on the work and get the work done, they’ll be (fine) and that’s one thing I’d like to have.” I want the manager to have that support from powers, either at Sport Ireland or at government level, just to protect them from external influences outside the entity that want to dictate what should happen,” he explained.

In its statement last week, IABA said it had always viewed this document, which Dunne had complained about, as a “malicious and appalling attack on an employee and the High Performance Unit.”

“(IABA) CEO Fergal Carruth and Chairman Ciarán Kirwan have both spoken publicly about the seriousness of this attack on an employee and have repeatedly unequivocally supported Bernard Dunne in his position as HPU director,” it said.

“Under Bernard’s leadership, the HPU was reinvigorated after the Rio 2016 Olympics.

“Since his appointment, Ireland’s boxers have won two Olympic medals – gold and bronze – (and) 27 medals at world and European level, an achievement made all the more remarkable by the fact that Ireland’s boxers are on lockdown due to Covid-19 restrictions.”

IABA added that an initial hearing of Dunne’s complaint, filed in October 2021, was held in late April and adjourned with the consent of all parties and that the process is ongoing.

“It is important to note that there are 28,000 people in the Irish boxing family and as in all families there can be differences of view. However, a small cohort of the Irish boxing family has expressed robust dissatisfaction with the High Performance Unit since its inception in 2003,” she added. Boxing champion Bernard Dunne: “I made the right decision to leave the IABA”

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