Sport Ireland expresses disquiet at internal IABA row

Sport Ireland has expressed its disquiet about an internal row that has engulfed the IABA (the Irish Amateur Boxing Association), and which cost up to 50 young boxers from 21 clubs across Leinster the chance to compete in the All-Ireland championships.

Boxing has long been a very popular sport in Ireland and the country has produced many champions over the years. Competing in the All-Ireland event provides a springboard for those hoping to pursue a professional career and perhaps become a future world champion.

Not for nothing are Irish people known as the Fighting Irish. 

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Civil war erupted in the IABA in June when en the Leinster and Connaught Councils and the Dublin board – half of the six units on the island – withdrew their support for the national body in protest over a delay in appointing two new directors to the board, something that was approved at the 2019 AGM.

In retaliation, in August, the Central Council of the IABA passed motions demanding that the affiliations of those organisations and the membership of their directly elected officials should be revoked. That decision was approved last month by an independent membership  review panel.

Meanwhile separate Boy and Girl Championships were organised by the Leinster Council. Something which was not approved by the IABA, who warned those participating that it was not a path to qualification for the National Championship.

Connacht boxers are unaffected, despite the expulsion of their own provincial council. That is because they had organised their won event, it subsequently had to be cancelled for Covid reasons.

The blame game has now started on both sides. The  Central Council of the IABA maintains that they take no pleasure from the current situation, but the consequences are the result of the unprecedented and ill-judged decisions taken by the expelled units.

For their part, the Leinster Council are accusing the sport’s governing body of crushing the dreams of dozens of young Irish boxers. 

And watching all this from the side-lines are Sport Ireland, who have privately expressed their concerns to the IABA about the detrimental impact that this squabbling is having on young boxers.

They have pointed out that athletes as young as 11 years old are expected to follow the instruction of people who have been placed in positions  of authority, and the expectation is that these adults will act in the best interests of their young charges, and not pursue personal political vendettas.

Although Sport Ireland has said that it does not intend directly to get embroiled in the row. It has urged all sides to get round the table and begin talking to each other again, so that the sporting lives of more children are not marred by this unseemly row.

And, since this is a boxing organisation, one way for this matter to be resolved is for the main protagonists to don gloves, get in the ring, and slug it out over three rounds!

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