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Darren O’Neill Blames ‘Politics’ For World Championships Non-Selection

Darren O’Neill points to politics when trying to explain why he wasn’t selected for the ongoing World Championships.

The experienced Paulsstown man was one of the more notable absentees when the IABA confirmed a squad to travel to Belgrade, Serbia and compete.

At 34-years-of-age the London Olympian may have been deemed to old be part of the High Performance’s Paris 2024 plans.

However, many argued as a National Elite champion the veteran operator earned the right to compete – and with the IABA worried about the young nature of those eligible for selections it was suggested O’Neill’s experience would benefit the World Championships first-timers.

In the end ‘Mr. Amateur’, the first-ever National Elite cruiserweight champ wasn’t picked and speaking online this week he confirmed it was not communicated as to why.

That lack of communication seems to have upset the Kilkenny man and has led him to believe ‘politics’ had a part to play.

“Have received many queries as to why I wasn’t selected for the World Elite Championships…. the simple answer folks is I don’t know,” O’Neill said online.

“The initial reasoning behind potentially not sending a team was inexperience, which obviously can’t apply to me… my assumption, therefore, is that of politics.”

Discussing the IABA as an organisation and in more general terms, O’Neill expressed concerns a ‘new level bureaucracy’ is hurting the sport and its future.

“The IABA was always an unpredictable and chaotic realm but I think all interested in promoting the sport & boxers will say the organization has reached a new level bureaucracy that is damning to the future of the sport and aspiring athletes.” he continues with very strong opinions.

“There was a failure after success in Barcelona, Beijing and London to promote the sport and now again, after all those learnings, the failure is worse than ever before. This is a time kids should be knocking down doors to get involved and companies should be fighting to be associated with the org and boxers…. Instead, they’re being called before the Dáil…. But clever enough to delay the meeting to get their ducks in a row.

“I won’t hold my breath but let’s hope for change.”

Jonny Stapleton contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: