Irish Amateurs Boxers Hit With Funding Decrease

The number of Irish fighters funded by Sports Ireland Grants has been more than halved going into the Paris Olympic Cycle.

Sport Ireland have announced their High Performance funding for National Governing Bodies for the forthcoming year – and it wasn’t overly positive for the IABA or Ireland’s most successful Olympic Sport.

The governing body for the sport received €1,270,000 in total last year, with €500,000 being the core grant and a further €770,000 going to the High Performance Unit.

The €770,000 HPU funding has been confirmed but this, and subsequent payments for the Paris cycle, are subject to the ongoing review and compliance with Sport Ireland’s governance code. Indeed, Minister Jack Chambers has stated he is very concerned by the ongoing issues within the IABA.

In terms of individual carding scheme fighter funding, there has been a large drop off as we enter into a new Olympic cycle.

Included in funding increases across the board for the IABA in 2021 there was €328,000 shared amongst fifteen fighters with no 2020-funded boxer losing out.

Both the number of fighters funded and the amount allocated has dropped significantly this year with €235,000 being shared between just seven fighters. This €103,000 decrease comes despite the fact that, across all sports under the carding scheme, Irish athletes will be funded to the tune of €3,080,500 – a €333,500 increase from 2021.

At ‘Podium’ level, equalling €40,000 of funding, there is Olympic champ Kellie Harrington, Aoife O’Rourke, Michaela Walsh, and Aidan Walsh.

Kurt Walker was funded by that amount last year but has turned pro.

In the €25,000 – increased from €20,000 – ‘World Class’ tier there is double Olympian Brendan Irvine, Amy Broadhurst, and newcomer Kelyn Cassidy following his sensational performance at the World Championships last year.

Christina Desmond, Grainne Walsh, and Michael Nevin were all part of that tier last year but are not funded moving forward. Nevin had talked about going pro and is off the radar at present and it remains unclear as to whether Belfast’s Irvine will wear the vest again. Walsh and Desmond remain regulars at Abbottstown.

‘International’ level funding has increased from €12,000 to €18,000 – but no Irish boxer will be in receipt. Last year, Kieran Molloy, Kirill Afanasev, Emmet Brennan, George Bates, and Aidan Walsh all were funded at this level. Walsh has increased his funding while Molloy and Brennan are gone professional. Afanasev and Bates both have been out of the picture since the Olympic qualifiers while Gabriel Dossen, who received €8,000 last year, is also now an unfunded athlete as he approaches his first major tournament this month.

Dossen is one of ten Irish boxers that will fight at the European Championships in Armenia – all of whom are unfunded. Should any of the fighters at Olympic weights reach the quarter-finals, assuming they win two bouts, they should guarantee funding for 2023. Similarly, should any of the boxers at the ongoing Women’s Worlds reach the Last 16, they too will secure funding.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 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: editoririshboxing@gmail.com