Gavin Rafferty has become the second Irish boxer forced to withdraw from the European Under-22 Championship.
Captain Kian Hedderman’s tournament ended before it began on Sunday, as he had to pull out due to the fact he drew Russian light heavyweight Khasmagomed Dzhavatkhanov in the first round.
Dublin Dockland’s Rafferty managed to reach the second round courtesy of a win over Hungary’s Soma Mester – but he exits without being beaten after it was confirmed his path would cross with a Belarussian, a country also on the IABA’s ‘withdraw if you draw’ list.
Following a directive from the Government and Sport Ireland, the IABA asked all 15 fighters who travelled to Budva, Montenegro to compete in the tournament, to sign a contract stating they would abstain from fighting any Russian or Belarussian opponent.
Two fighter’s have already had their chances of a life changing medal dashed by the luck of the draw and no doubt more will fall foul of the policy.
It’s a policy has drawn widespread criticism across the Irish boxing community with many arguing politics shouldn’t play a part in sport – and particularly in a sport that has been so effective in making political and religious leanings irrelevant in Ireland.
Three time Olympian Paddy Barnes has been a vocal objector while former two weight world champion Carl Frampton also expressed his dismay.
Speaking online Frampton said: “What ever happened to ‘keep politics out of sport’?”
While Irish amateur legend Barnes said: “The Irish fighters should fight them anyways, nothing will happen. Just do it!”