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Irish boxing’s future is ‘bleak’ unless members support reform measures

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The future of boxing in Ireland is “bleak” as the sport faces long-term damaging restrictions unless members support reform measures at an Extraordinary General Meeting on Sunday, according to a joint statement by board chairman Ciarán Kirwan and board chairman Fergal Carruth.

Directors last night met Sport Minister Jack Chambers TD and Paul McDermott, Director of Sport Ireland High Performance.

The minister formally advised the board that if a proposal to expand the board does not receive the required 75 percent support from club delegates at the Roscommon meeting, the IABA will be cut immediately by 15 percent.

Additionally, IABA and clubs do not have access to dormant account funding or sports capital and equipment grants. Funding from municipalities is being cut and more and more cuts will be made in the coming months.

Sport Ireland Return to Sport grants, which this year enabled IABA to pay the full insurance and membership costs of every affiliated club in Ireland, will no longer be available.

Despite the financial turmoil that a rejection of the motion will bring, the chances that three quarters of the delegates present will support it remain very slim. Ironically, the minister’s intervention has strengthened the resolve of many delegates to oppose it.

The statement ends pointedly by stating that the five IABA representatives on the current Board, outgoing President Dominic O’Rourke, Ted Barry (Munster), Andrew Duncan (Leinster), Charlie Toland (Ulster) and Tom Geraghty (Connacht) ” pledged their full support for reforms”.

Members are required by law to support board decisions regardless of their personal views.

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

If approved, this newly formed board will include six independent members, plus athlete and coach representatives, while also addressing the under-representation of women on the board.

The new board would then be tasked with deciding how to address the remaining recommendations in the recently published IABA Governance Review.

Chairman of the Board Ciarán Kirwan said in the statement: “The magnitude of choice for Irish boxing should not be underestimated, but with all change comes opportunity.

“Boxers create and seize opportunities in every fight. So do we. Like any fight, this will not be easy – but the prospect of a fight has never discouraged a boxer or trainer. We must be just as fearless.

“The consequences of choosing not to reform or not to enter our second phase are dire. The sports minister was very clear – boxing is threatened with cuts in funding. Boxing is restricted.

“We cannot allow this fate for Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport – indeed we cannot allow this fate for the sport that has brought Ireland two world titles that year. The power to prevent that fate rests with every club in Ireland – the decision is theirs, and theirs alone,” he said.

IABA Chief Executive Fergal Carruth added: “We know the proposed changes to the Office of the President have worried many in the boxing family.

“The proposals will elevate the office of President above politics in our sport. The Office of the President of IABA, if Motion One is adopted, will become the jewel in Irish boxing’s crown. The President will be an ambassador for boxing, not just in Irish society, but an ambassador for Irish boxing around the world,” he said.

The statement confirms that 60 voting delegates must attend the EGM and 75 percent of them must support the motion for it to pass. “IABA recognizes the challenges of uniting the Irish boxing family in a change of this magnitude, given strong opposition to the proposals,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, it was revealed yesterday in the Seanad that two members of the board of directors were facing internal disciplinary proceedings stemming from the dissemination in 2021 of a document that criticized the High Performance Unit and suggested that then-director Bernard Dunne should not be offered a new contract after the Tokyo Olympics, have been clarified.

Fine Gael Senator Micheál Carrigy, a long-time critic of the current IABA leadership, also pointed out that another disciplinary proceeding had volunteers who had their membership revoked defending themselves before Sports Solution Ireland at their own expense.

“These volunteers have been suspended in the middle of an election campaign, the outcome of which has not yet been announced, although the vote has taken place. They all won their case but the result was never published because IABA doesn’t want to publish it.”

Senator Carrigy pointed out that none of the 64 recommendations in Brian MacNeice’s governance report, which forms the basis of the reform package, refer to the “people who are actually responsible for the sport”.

“For boxing to move forward, we need to remove those who have been at the helm of the organization for the past eight or nine years,” he said.

A spokesperson responded to questions about the SDSI ruling, including how much IABA spent on legal fees in the cases. “SDSI’s rules dictate that all proceedings are confidential. Since IABA is bound by this confidentiality, we cannot comment on it. All relevant parties are bound by the same confidentiality.”

Meanwhile, the results of the long-awaited Central Council elections are set to be announced at Sunday’s extraordinary general meeting. So far, IABA has not indicated whether the EGM will be open to the press on Sunday.

https://www.independent.ie/sport/other-sports/boxing/future-of-irish-boxing-is-grim-unless-members-back-reform-measures-41821692.html Irish boxing’s future is ‘bleak’ unless members support reform measures

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