Olympic champion Kellie Harrington has lent her support to High Performance director Bernard Dunne.
Former world champion Dunne and his position within Irish amateur boxing have been central in the IABA civil war, with one side questioning his ability to lead the elite Irish amateur team.
In fact, a 19 point, 1500 word, ‘position paper’ was sent to the IABA members anonymously in April calling for his head. The contents of that letter were negative in tone and attacked Dunne’s leadership skills and suggested he should not be offered a new contract.
Dunne’s position, which is just one of a number of points of argument between warring factions, was raised at a recent Oireachtas committee meeting and he was backed by Chairman of the IABA’s Board of Directors Ciaran Kirwan, while Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy questioned the integrity of the report.
Toyko gold medal winner and recent Tatler Woman of the Year winner Harrington has also come to the defense of Dubliner.
Harrington has deliberately avoided all in-fighting reports and admits she has had her arguments with Dunne but does believe he has had a positive impact and she hopes he remains in the role.
“Being very honest, I haven’t read a thing about it. What I will say though is that, while I’ve been involved in the high performance since Bernard has come in, female boxing has definitely been impacted massively, and all for good,” she said at an event that confirmed a new three-year partnership with Spar.
“I can only speak well of Bernard – we do have our tit-for-tat moments but we always air them out. He’s a person you can approach and whatever he does will be right for him, but I hope that we don’t lose him.”
Harrington had been preparing for the World Championships, which were set for Turkey and next week but an increase in Covid-19 cases in the country has seen the event postponed.
It’s not ideal but it has allowed Harrington to focus on orking with Dublin City Council to open up more avenues for children looking to use boxing to change their direction in life.
“For me it was a welcome postponement because I’ve had a very busy year. I was sad though for other girls coming through, but the way I look at it is it gives those other girls coming through a lot more time because we’ve a lot of new people on the scene.
“I am hoping to work with Dublin City Council – I’ll put it out there because if I put it out there it’ll more than likely possibly happen – to open a club. It wouldn’t be to open a boxing club, but a boxing gym where kids from the community can come at certain times.
“They’d have to do their homework and get a hot meal and a training session. We’d also take some kids from school, but my vision is we won’t be taking fifth class and sixth class, it’ll be leaving it to the schools for who they put forward for training sessions.
“It would be people who come from a disadvantaged position where they are going down the wrong pathway like I was in life.
“They could go down to the club and train there without having to worry that they have to fight or compete. It would be something totally different.
“It’s not a boxing club so the boxing clubs in the community don’t have to pile up on me and say ‘she’s opening up a club down the road’.
“It will be something for kids to take themselves down a different pathway. Myself and Joey O’Brien (boxing coach) are looking to do that with Dublin City Council.
“Fingers crossed, that gets off the ground in new year. I’m going to throw everything into that. From where I come from and how I got into boxing, this is what I’m passionate about.”