23 April 2011
Since its inception in 2001 Irish-boxing.com has consistently provided news, views and information, keeping the boxing public informed on a daily basis. In modern times, having a strong online presence is vital to any sport and the growing phenomenon of social networking (Facebook, Twitter etc) and the likes of YouTube mean that all manner of boxing material is uploaded and circulated on a daily basis. We are now in a situation where a number of outlets provide quality output on the Irish circuit, although when Irish-boxing.com first came along the domestic scene had grown stagnant. As founder Tomas Rohan explains, the site appeared from humble beginnings.
It should be said that the first ever Irish boxing website was Irishboxingnews.com which was run by Gerry Callan’s son David, Tomas remembers. It carried news, fight reports and Gerry’s columns from the [Irish Daily] Star but David wasn’t able to devote as much time as he would have liked so he actually gave me the archives of his site to use on Irish-Boxing.com. I initially set up the site on April 20 2001 to ensure that Irish boxing continued to have an online presence.
Back then the professional scene was still pretty dormant here but there was enough going on between the UK and US-based Irish pros and the amateurs to keep things ticking along and it slowly gathered momentum thanks to a whole host of regular contributors and we had columns by Wayne McCullough and Sam Storey.
It’s funny now looking back on a lot of the early articles to see guys who were then only emerging in the amateurs and have since gone on to enjoy huge success both in the amateur and professional ranks.
Tomas supplied me with a web archive file which made the trip down memory lane even more fascinating. There was a story about Bernard Dunne turning pro with Top Rank (which failed to materalise), news of Neil Sinclair lining up a challenge for the British title and the early rumblings of Eamonn Magee vs. Ricky Hatton. As the countdown to the 2001 World Amateur Championships gathered pace, a story from 27 April 2001 catalogued the results from an Ireland vs. USA International event at Dublins National Stadium. Rohan points to two standout results that read: John Duddy 4-5 Andre Ward (middleweight) and JP Campbell 7-4 Andre Dirrell (featherweight).
When Tomas departed in 2007, to take up a role working for promoter Brian Peters, he left the website in the capable hands of Cormac Campbell. A former reporter with Setanta Sports, Campbell revamped the look of the site and adopted the form of a monthly magazine, pumping out the information via RSS feeds while adding various new features over time and establishing a supporters club.
I first started writing for Irish-boxing.com in 2003 while at university in Belfast so it was something I had cared about for a long time, explains Campbell. In the early days shows in Ireland (never mind Belfast) were few and far between and only a handful of the Irish papers were covering the sport properly. As such, Irish-boxing.com was filling the void for many fight fans. There was, however, a belief that things would change and for a spell (2003/2004) Brian Magee breathed life into the industry with a string of shows at the Kings Hall – but the real change in direction came when Bernard Dunne returned from Los Angeles in 2005.
Finally, regular boxing was here. What’s more, it was on terrestrial television and in the newspapers. Ironically, this nearly put an end to Irish-boxing.com as Tomas began working for Dunne’s promoter Brian Peters and as a result the site was put on hiatus. Then in late 2007 I asked Tomas if I could take over the site and he agreed. The site was redesigned and re-launched the following March. Whereas in the past it focused not only on Irish boxers but also on the British and International scene, the growth in the Irish industry allowed us to focus solely on Irish boxers.
Cormac rates Bernard Dunne’s famous world title victory over Ricardo Cordoba as the undisputed highlight of his time as editor. Despite this there have been countless other outstanding moments and the revitalisation of the Irish title is something else that has pleased me greatly, he adds. More and more young boxers of real talent are coming through and the standard of coaching in Ireland is second to none. So as long as the economy doesn’t collapse entirely (and that is possible), the future for boxing in Ireland appears bright.
It is never easy to predict what the future holds for Irish boxing online but it appears we have plenty to look forward to over the coming years. Journalist Jonny Stapleton provides freelance coverage for The Daily Mirror and regularly contributes to Irish-boxing.com. Jonny will also be taking a more hands-on role in the coming months as Cormac Campbell prepares to pass over the reins of the ten-year-old site.
I am both proud and grateful for the opportunity to work with Irish-boxing.com over the last few years, declares Stapleton. The first stories I submitted were interviews with amateur stars Kenny Egan and the late, great Darren Sutherland and fittingly were probably of an amateur standard. However, Tomas Rohan and subsequently Cormac Campbell continued to take and publish my copy enabling me to combine two of my favoured past times in boxing and writing. Despite working with local press before upgrading to national press with the Irish Mirror I always continued to submit stories to Irish-boxing.com. Partly because I wanted to share the news, views and reactions with the international audience I know the site commands and secondly because I felt the website had done so much for me and boxing over the last 10 years that I owed it good copy.
Jonny is keen to be taking over the site and extremely capable of doing the longstanding institution justice as it enters its tenth year.
Irish-boxing.com has been at the forefront of the Internet revolution in Irish sport and I firmly believe the development of the website and the constant source of news it provides has helped boxing roar over the last 10 years even after the Celtic Tiger began to whimper. The website has played its part in aiding the great Bernard Dunne to generate interest beyond the fanatic and played a big part in courting TV and sponsorship too.
Jonny Stapleton is also a big believer in the online revolution: The Internet in general has revolutionised how boxing is covered, consumed, discussed and debated, he says. News and views are instant. Results shared in seconds. You can follow round-by-round action of a Thai fight in the comfort of an Irish office. Whilst the referee is administering a ten count to a bamboozled fighter, social network sites are concededly administrating it to an excited global audience.
One of the world wide boxing webs biggest achievements is to give a voice to fans and the little men of boxing. The net has lessened the dictatorship element of boxing coverage and created a more socialist boxing press. All fighters are equal and have a say online. As a result the boxing fan can consume news of what is generally viewed as a minority sport by the wider media in massive proportions and gleeful abundance. Debutants, journeymen and those without serious backing, who are not deemed worthy to be given a voice or column inches in national papers, receive website yards to scream at the top of their lungs until the Nationals listen and pay heed.
The development of forums also gives the individual fan a say. I am reliably informed that promoters in Ireland, and abroad, study the forums for reaction, views and tips! Another facet of the Internet is more creative writing. Indeed, some fight reports can be more entertaining than the bouts themselves and the battle to land the biggest and best puns can be more intriguing than the fight to land the biggest punch.
So as far as Irish-boxing.com is concerned, heres to another 10 years?
If the next ten years in Irish boxing are as good as the last 10, concludes Tomas Rohan, then there will certainly be no shortage of material to keep Irish-Boxing.com going.
The full version of this article can be found in the recently released 2011 edition of the Irish Boxing Review. Now available through Amazon, eBay and PayPal, more information and links can found at www.irishboxingreview.com.