The luck of the draw takes on more significance than ever for Irish fighters heading into the European Under-22 Championships.
A good draw has always proved valuable in amateur boxing tournaments as on occasion it can prove to be the difference between coming home with a medal or not.
However, the young talents heading to the European Under-22 Championships, which glove off in Budva, Montenegro on November 10, will need a very good draw to get to the podium.
Reports coming out of amateur clubs across the country suggest the IABA have informed all those selected to represent their country at the tournament, that they will have to withdraw if they draw boxers from Russia or Belarus. Indeed, rumour suggests they have signed a contract agreeing to follow the procedure.
A ban on Russian and Belarusian fighters from competing in IBA-governed tournaments because of the war in Ukraine was lifted late last year.
Indeed, not only did the IBA move to facilitate a return to the ring for Russians and Belarusians, but it also let them compete under their national flags – a stance mirrored by no other International Federation on the Olympic program.
Such a stance has caused a dilemma for the IABA and it appears they have reached a compromise. They will send a team to the tournament but will demand their fighters pull out of the tournament if drawn against fighters from either nation.
It’s a stance that could lead to heartbreak for one of the number of national U22 champions chosen to travel, particularly if drawn against either in the first fight or in a medal bout.
It’s also a stance that may change over the coming days.
Ireland didn’t send teams to the Women’s World Championships among other tournaments this year. It’s understood the Government and Sport Ireland urged the IABA not to participate after the IBA’s decision to allow boxers from Russia and Belarus to compete under their own flag at the championships.
However, they did send a team to the 2023 European Schools Championship in Slovenia in August.
It should be noted that the ‘Withdraw if you draw a Russian or Belarussian’ caveat was in play for the Irish boxers who competed in Slovenia but neither Russia or Belarus entered teams to that tournament.
It is unclear whether they will enter fighters in Montenegro but Ireland’s representatives have been warned in advance