12 Irish fighters to be sent to World Youth Championships

Ireland will send a team of 12 to the World Youth Championships in Spain next month the IABA President has confirmed.

The 24 reigning youth champions were informed last Saturday that the IABA was going to boycott the tournament due to the fact Russia and Belarus would be involved.

Ireland was set to row in behind the ‘Common Cause Alliance’ and refrain from sending a team.

However, with the Spanish government banning Russian and Belarussian teams from competing the door reopened for a team to be sent and O’Mahony confirmed as much yesterday.

“Ireland will take part in the Worlds [in that event] – we’re in the process of that at the moment,” said the new IABA president when speaking to the Irish News.

“The IBA allowing Russia and Belarus back was a deliberate snub to the IOC (International Olympic Committee), and would do greater damage to boxing in the long-term because if we’re not an Olympic sport, the consequences are grave.

“I don’t think anyone agrees with the invasion of Ukraine, you’d like to keep that separate from sport, but unfortunately they overlap sometimes. The likes of Ireland would suffer badly if it wasn’t an Olympic sport – it’s because of the medals that we get whatever funding we get.

“I would like to think the decision the IABA central council made on Saturday put an extra bit of pressure on Spain and other countries. We’re a small country but we’re brave enough to stand up and do something,” he added before lamenting having to share such news with teenagers who had put aside their summer to prepare for the tournament.

“The unfortunate part of it all, of course, is that you’re affecting kids,” he said.

“But the bigger picture is, as things stand, by the time those kids are old enough to box in the Olympics there won’t be boxing in the Olympics. It’s hard to explain that to kids now, but four or five years comes pretty fast.”

It’s good news but not for all 24 champions. As previously suggested the IABA won’t be sending a full team, rather it will be culled to 12.

It understood the team were told finance was behind the reason only half a team would be sent, but O’Mahony suggests it also has to do with some fighters not being Worlds ready.

“You have 24 champions,” says O’Mahony, “some of them had a hard battle, some went to the Europeans and brought back medals and some of the kids were at peculiar weights and were good enough to win an Irish title but maybe not at the level of the Worlds. The Worlds is a big step.

“GB don’t send a full team either, most teams don’t. The last time we went to the Worlds we sent 11 boxers, so we don’t traditionally send full teams.

“Financially, we’re still finding our feet. Maybe we should be looking at other ways of raising finance where we’re not depending solely on what the government is giving us, but unfortunately, that’s the way it is.”

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