Ireland at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics

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Ireland sent a team of four to the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, but the panel didn’t exactly travel to America with the full support of all of Irish boxing.

Some of the biggest County Boards on the island believed that the panel might not be up to task in LA and even suggested that the four should test themselves in the ABA Championships (English Championships).

The IABA Central Council however overruled the County Boards in question and the squad were dispatched to the USA as selected.

Paddy Hughes was the first into the ring in LA, but he was beaten by Argentinean Carlos Alberto Pereyra in his opening bantamweight bout.

Ernie Smith received a bye into the last eight, where he dropped a points decision to another Argentine, Carmelo Robledo, who went on to claim gold after beating Germany’s Josef Schleinkofer in the featherweight final.

Four years prior to the LA Games, Robledo was beaten by Ireland’s Frank Traynor in the quarter-finals at the Amsterdam Olympics.

Welterweight Larry Flood also lost early on in California, falling to South African Robert Barton.

Jim Murphy, boxing in the light-heavyweight class, was the only Irish boxer to score a win

Murphy, who received a bye into the quarters, beat John Miller of the USA, but was then retired injured in the first round of his semi final with Italy’s Gino Rossi – who lost to South African David Carstenes in the the decider.

The injury also forced Murphy to frustratingly withdraw from the box-off for bronze with Denmark’s Peter Jorgensen.

85 boxers from 18 nations competed across the eight traditional weight categories at the 1932 Games.

Argentina sprung a surprise to top the medal table ahead of the host nation with two gold and one silver medal.

The 1932 Olympics also saw some rule changes, with the referee being inside the ring, as opposed to sitting on a high stool outside the square circle, as well as boxers wearing distinctive red and green ribbons around their waist.

Ireland claimed two gold medals in Los Angeles, with Dr Pat O’Callaghan claiming his second successive gold in the hammer throw and Bob Tisdall finishing first in the 400m hurdles.

The 1932 Games marked the last occasion that an Irish athlete competed at the Olympics before WW2 as Ireland did not enter the 1936 Games in Berlin.

Rather than objecting to Nazi Germany, the reason Ireland didn’t participate in Berlin was due to a dispute in relation to flag and anthems and administrative authority between various national sporting bodies. There had been talk of an Irish boxing squad fighting in Berlin under the neutral flag of the International Boxing Association, but this did not materialise.

From a boxing perspective, Ireland’s absence at the 1936 Games was regrettable as the Garda Boxing Club at the time were at their peak and widely renowned throughout Europe.

Bantamweight – Patrick Hughes (Corinthians)
Lost to Carlos Alberto Pereyra (Argentina) PTS

Featherweight – Ernest Smith (St Andrew’s)
Lost to Carmelo Robledo (Argentina) (eventual gold medallist) PTS

Welterweight – Larry Flood (Army)
Lost to Robert Barton (South Africa) PTS

Light Heavyweight – James Murphy (Army)
Beat John Miller (USA) PTS
Lost to Gino Rossi (Italy) TKO-I1

Bronze Medal Box-Off
Lost to Peter Joergensen (Denmark) W/O

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie