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FULL DOCUMENT – Position Paper on “failed” HPU leadership have obtained the position paper provided to all IABA members earlier today.

The paper includes a SWOT analysis of the current iteration of the IABA High Performance Unit along with 19 ‘key points’ on the HPU’s failings and a conclusion that a new director will ultimately be needed in place of Bernard Dunne.

While the position paper was sent anonymously, it is stated that “coaches, administrators and members” had been consulted and understands that some of the contributions have come from within the HPU itself.

The full, unedited, document can be read below:

The reporting and publication of this document is not intended to be considered an endorsement of the contents within.

Introduction – In this position paper, coaches, administrators and members have been consulted on ‘their view’ of the current situation in Irish Amateur Boxing. As stakeholder’s we have formulated our thoughts on how to improve our sport, to help further our success in this fast, and ever-changing world.

Background – As we approach the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, with Irish boxers in the final phase of trying to qualify for the honour to represent their country and compete for medals in the XXXII Olympiad, there is an opportunity to take stock, and consider the important role the High-Performance Unit (HPU) within the wider sport. To help facilitate this review, a SWOT analysis has been undertaken to evaluate the Unit’s performance by critiquing its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, summarised as follows:

Key Points: Communication is HPU’S biggest downfall – Internal and External
1. The current HPU leadership has failed, to have meaningful engagement with the club coaches, of boxers on the National Team.

2. Coaches and support staff work in isolation to the wider sport. They are not allowed to engage with the coaches of the boxers in the HPU.

3. There are no systems for knowledge transfer/dissemination of elite learning to grass roots.

4. There is no duty of care to boxers in the National Team, to support them transition, post career, into employment.

5. There is no clear funding pathway for boxers who enter the HPU, i.e., boxers who are not on funding are required, to have the same dedication and commitment levels, as boxers on 40k euros. The methodology used to disseminate, who is entitled to funding, is inequitable.

6. The HPU is more an ‘exclusive club,’ rather than part of a wider governing body.

7. Club coaches are viewed as a ‘threat’ rather than a partner. “Best Practice” was when the coaches from the HPU worked alongside club coaches, especially those coaches who had boxers in the HPU, and vice versa. The “triangle” of HPU – Boxer – Club coach, doesn’t exist, and is a huge failure by HPU. Something that is common in the leading nations.

8. The investment of time, effort, money, thought time, facilities, from our members, officials, coaches, and especially boxers from under-age to senior elite, is immeasurable. The lack of respect and appreciation from HPU extended to the clubs for their work, requires utmost investment by HPU leadership.

9. The HPU’s lack of ability, to have any meaningful involvement or engagement with the clubs is a terrible indictment on our Association to allow develop and is the very reason why our HPU is in decline. The decisions HPU have made, and the direction they have taken, has ultimately, alienated them from the clubs. This situation brought about by the HPU, has brought disharmony and a lack of trust in HPU, leaving clubs in little or no doubt, that the (HPU) has no understanding, of the needs and requirements, of our present-day boxers and clubs.

10. HPU’s Coaching System and methodology, has not been disseminated to the affiliated coaches of the IABA. In fact, there is a concern within club coaches that the training principles and techniques, are out of touch with the current Olympic style boxing.

11. HPU must be accountable to the Boxing Council, on matters pertaining to its members, and boxing. All teams selected by HPU must be ratified by the Boxing Council, with permission to travel.

12. HPU must source finance or implement cost cuts in the HPU, to put much needed funding into our lost generation of 17/19 year old boxers. This funding would help HPU develop pathways for our boxer’s, and assist them in boxing in the qualifiers, for the Paris Olympics, 2024.

13. HPU’s inability to provide experience for our boxers, by not having home Internationals, to showcase our boxers’ talents, and manage their potential, is non – existent. These home Internationals would help and assist with the development of our boxers for Internationals, Multi-Nation Tournaments, European Championships, World Championships and Olympic Games.

14. HPU will take our boxers who have attained a level of performance and have achieved the criteria into their programme. However, when the HPU decides that the boxer is no longer required, they remove the boxer from the programme. This is done by informing the boxer he/she is no longer required. Neither the boxer nor his club coach will receive any measured analysis or appraisal of his time spent in HPU. Also, there is no review of the HPU, making them accountable for the boxer’s failure, to achieve the targets set by HPU. Evidently, an unacceptable practice by any standard.

15. HPU should be in a position, to have three International teams functioning, throughout our calendar year. These senior elite boxers should know in advance, which multi – nation tournament they will compete in. There are many events to choose from in Europe, and around the world.

16. HPU do not hold ‘Test Matches or High Profile Competition’ in the National Stadium for elite boxers, club elite boxers, boxers representing their Unit, and boxers who have the potential to become elite boxers. These events would help to prepare our elite boxers for the national championships, International duty, and form part of our talent I.D programme. Also, these events would bring new challenges, and exposure for all our elite boxers. It would also give the paying public, and supporters, an opportunity to create an income stream to support our boxers, with their endeavour, to represent Ireland. These events should be utilised, to play an integral role in the ongoing assessment process, to select teams to represent Ireland, on the International circuit. The monies generated from these events, would help to part fund our boxers, to represent Ireland, on International duty.

17. HPU have not adopted any of the systems or methodology, from any of the top three world class countries, Kazakhstan, Russia, Cuba i.e., who are the powerhouses in Olympic Boxing. HPU have not been able to maximise all our resources available to them from the Association, at their disposal i.e., boxers, coaches, facilities, the people who are experts in HP methodology, Sports Science and administration. Also, the HPU’s inability to utilise the six Units in our Association, who are responsible for the good governance of boxing in their region, and have elite boxers available, to help the HPU to develop our, no 2, 3, and 4 elite boxers, supporting High Performance development.

18. HPU’s failure to encourage and endear boxers, with the ability, and experience, to compete at International level, who have a proven track record and experience at International level, participate in the High-Performance training programmes, is a major loss of assets to our Association. With societal changes in how we function, and how we are structured, should be seen as a key indicator to the High-Performance Unit, that their HP model needs to be modified and the necessary adjustments made to address the ever-changing needs of our boxers. This to accommodate the boxer’s quest and desire to represent Ireland at International level. However, these boxers because of their circumstances, are not in a position to travel to Dublin on a daily or weekly basis. Part of the reason they cannot travel, is because they are either, in part-time work or full-time employment. Going to College or University, serving an apprenticeship, clearly indicates they are not in a position to travel. However, the High Performance training system is transportable. It should be made available to our boxers and coaches who find themselves in this unique situation. The staff and volunteers are already in situ to implement the HP programme, in many units, waiting for the go ahead. These measures should be put in place as soon as possible.

19. How can HPU expect our boxers, after serving ten years of their life, to achieve the status of a senior elite boxer and expect them to work for nothing? When you take into consideration, coaches who serve these boxers get paid €45,000 – €120,000? Also, there are other personnel getting paid to serve these boxers. Of course, there is no issue with our staff getting paid. However, there is a serious imbalance. The first “Principle of Good Governance – Sport Ireland” is Fair Play. This principle has not been afforded to our boxers. Where is the level playing field?

Irish boxing needs the person with leadership responsibility of the High Performance Unit, to have more organisational and inter-personal skills. As a paid employee of the IABA, they should be required to have the personal skills to build bridges between all stakeholders involved. The High Performance Unit needs to have the flexibility for change, to meet the ever-changing needs of our present-day boxers’ and their clubs.

There is nothing wrong with the current Performance Director’s technical skills. However, at this time, Irish Boxing needs a person with a different personality, profile, and the right skill set. Otherwise, Irish Boxing will decline further.

Taking all matters into account, and consideration of the findings of the SWOT Analysis, clearly indicates, the Performance Director should not get another four year term contract. However, applying the ‘Good Governance Principle’ of Fair Play, he should be offered a six months contract, and no longer than one year. Following on from this period, the position for High Performance Director, should be advertised forthwith.


Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years