IRISH BOXING PLAYS KEY ROLE IN OLYMPIC TORCH VISIT
By Jonny Stapleton
THE Irish boxing family played a massive part in the Olympic Torch’s historic visit to the Republic of Ireland today.
The Olympic flame, which lit up numerous venues in Ulster over the last number of days crossed the border this morning before eventually setting of fireworks in the packed streets of Dublin.
Irish Olympic boxing medallists Wayne McCullough and Michael Carruth conducted the early morning handover ceremony at a remote spot between Newry and Dundalk.
Crowds of local people watched and cheered as McCullough, who won welterweight silver in the 1992 Games, passed the flame to Carruth, who took bantamweight gold in the same tournament.
The moving of the torch from North to South was meant to reflect the peace process and the strides been named and as McCullough explains its fitting boxing was the sport chosen for the historic border crossing.
“I am from the Shankill Road in Belfast, I have never had any problems like religion. It is a major step for everybody, people are coming together. Boxing was always a sport where Protestant and Catholic came together,” McCullough said.
“It is pretty awesome. This was something I was looking forward to all week, to do something cross-community and meet my good buddy Michael Carruth,” he added.
“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am honoured to be doing it. It was like going into the Olympic final again, you get emotional, it was almost like I was about to fight again.”
The moment wasn’t lost on Carruth either, he described the handover as “a beautiful moment” and the gold medallist admitted carrying the Olympic Torch was a huge honour.
“It was an absolute honour for me and all my family. It was a moment Wayne and I will treasure forever. It is fantastic, the torch is what is good about sport. It is a fantastic occasion for everyone, north and south of the border.”
Carruth and McCullough where not the only members of the Irish boxing family to be involved today.
Beijing 2008 silver medallist Kenneth Egan also played a part in today’s festivities, whilst, Tony Sutherland father of Egan’s fellow Beijing medallist the late Darren Sutherland and four time World champion Katie Taylor’s mother Briget Taylor also carried the torch in Dublin.