A CLUB WITH COM­MU­NITY SPIRIT

Wick­low Box­ing Club fos­ter­ing the hopes and dreams of it's mem­bers

Bray People - - SPORT - BRIAN O’DONOGHUE Sports Re­porter

WICK­LOW BOX­ING CLUB was set up in Jan­uary 2011. It orig­i­nally had the name 'Our Lady of Fa­tima box­ing club' in line with a long stand­ing box­ing tra­di­tion of many clubs be­ing called af­ter a Pa­tron Saint. This was later sim­pli­fied to 'Wick­low Box­ing Club'.

The club ini­tially used a small room in Hil­lview Com­mu­nity Cen­tre but as the club grew in size this was no longer fit for pur­pose.

Close links were forged with Wick­low Town Coun­cil who did tremen­dous work in fos­ter­ing the de­vel­op­ment and growth of the sport and pro­vi­sion of fa­cil­i­ties for young people in Wick­low by pro­vid­ing the club with the use of the larger as­sem­bly hall from the Town Coun­cil.

It re­ally took off and pro­vided am­ple space and train­ing room for its mem­ber­ship of over 60 box­ers (and grow­ing) aged be­tween 8 and 40 years. Ev­ery box­ing club needs to have a full time train­ing ring and it was al­ways the long term goal of the club to have pro­vide mem­bers with this fa­cil­ity

For chair­man of the club, Piaras O'Sul­li­van, this is not just a club though, it's so much more and he sums up what the three-year-old club, in its most re­cent form, means to not just its mem­bers but the wider com­mu­nity also.

“For me it's the spirit we've cre­ated within the club, it may be an in­di­vid­ual sport to take up and take part in but we have a fan­tas­tic sense of com­mu­nity spirit within the club, ev­ery­one works to­gether and even people who might not be mem­bers are aware of the work we're do­ing and they have no prob­lem sup­port­ing us when we need it, it's great to be a part of,” said Piaras.

There had been an ab­sence of a box­ing club in Wick­low for about 20 years prior to 2011 but it was great that one of the club coaches and for­mer boxer, Johnny Ka­vanagh, could fol­low on in his fa­ther's foot­steps from that pre­vi­ous era in his in­volve­ment coach­ing in the new club.

Jared Carthy, also a keen boxer in­volved with the old box­ing club run by the Malones and Ka­vanaghs in for­mer years has also come on board in coach­ing putting the lads through their paces to­gether with Peter Lough­lin who will be tak­ing on the next IABA coach­ing course. With the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of fe­male box­ing, com­mit­tee mem­bers Paula O'Cal­laghan and Marie Dick­en­son are al­ways on hand to en­sure ev­ery­thing goes to plan.

Box­ing is dif­fer­ent as a sport to get in­volved with in that most people will get back out of it what they put in, un­like team sports where people are re­liant on oth­ers to be com­mit­ted to achievment suc­cess.

“Well, ev­ery­one can box, re­gard­less of size or gen­der or age you can get in­volved and there's some­thing in it for ev­ery­one, there's a so­cial el­e­ment to it too,” sug­gested Piaras.

He fur­thered the point too and in­ter­est­ingly there is no need for ev­ery­one that joins the club to try and be­come the next Rocky Bal­boa:

“Ev­ery­one that comes down doesn't have to be a boxer, come down and just train for some fit­ness, to make friends, help some­body else train or just to watch and look at people hope­fully

im­prov­ing and grow­ing with the club,” sug­gested Piaras

Go­ing back to the early day's of the leg­endary Luggs Bran­ni­gan, for­mer Olympic boxer Brian Burns and a pop­u­lar fig­ure now in­volved in the IABA Larry Mor­ri­son, re­cent Olympian Adam Nolan there has been a proud box­ing tra­di­tion in An Garda Síochána. And so it was that four Gar­dai with an in­ter­est in Com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment through sport also are in­volved With the club. They are coaches Piaras O Sul­li­van, Alan Thomp­son, Marco De Luca and Ai­dan Kennedy.

With the ad­di­tion of Coun­cil­lor Gail Dunne to the com­mit­tee, the long term goal of the box­ing club hav­ing its own premises to train came to fruition ear­lier this year when the club moved to the old PE hall in the for­mer Abbey Com­mu­nity col­lege.

Here box­ers have ac­cess to top of the range fa­cil­i­ties, a full time box­ing ring, dress­ing rooms and fa­cil­i­ties for both male and fe­male box­ers of all ages. Given the re­cent suc­cesses of the Ir­ish Olympic box­ing team, in par­tic­u­lar hav­ing two Olympians in the north of the county with Katie Tay­lor and Adam Nolan of Bray Box­ing Club, it was a timely in­vest­ment in the pro­vi­sion of sports fa­cil­i­ties for Wick­low’s young fu­ture hope­fuls.

Much credit must go to Wick­low Box­ing Club com­mit­tee mem­ber, Coun­cil­lor Gail Dunne, through his work with Wick­low VEC now called Kil­dare/Wick­low Ed­u­ca­tion train­ing board.

“When we look at Ark­low Box­ing Club and they've prob­a­bly been around for 40 years or more and we see all they have and what they've done we look at do­ing some­thing sim­i­lar, when we see how much the com­mu­nity in Ark­low gets be­hind their lo­cal club we hope that ours will do the same and grow to be as big, we've made a start with our own premises and now we want to grow,” says the Chair­man.

Wick­low Box­ing Club has been rep­re­sented at club, county, provin­cial and na­tional level. It has had many suc­cesses in­clud­ing three over­all win­ners of last sea­son's Wex­ford league's,(a pres­ti­gious tour­na­ment at­tended by over 30 clubs through­out Le­in­ster). They were Cian Byrne, Liam Gre­gory Hayes and Niall O’Cal­laghan.

This May Bank Hol­i­day weekend, Satur­day, May 3 will see Wick­low Box­ing Club host one of the big­gest box­ing events ever to take place in Wick­low at the Grand ho­tel. A se­lec­tion of 10 box­ers will travel from north Wales to take on a se­lec­tion of Wick­low county box­ers. There will be 17 fights on the night.

The suc­cess of Katie Tay­lor in re­cent years has given box­ing not just in Ire­land but es­pe­cially in Wick­low a new lease of life. With Paddy Barnes and John Joe Joyce to name just a cou­ple that have also scaled moun­tains of growth it's no won­der the re­birth of Wick­low Box­ing Club has been so pos­i­tive and now there are real aims and goals to reach for.

“Not to be get­ting car­ried away but why can an eight or nine-year-old in the club now not set an All Ire­land goal for them­selves, maybe even an Olympic goal, there's noth­ing to say that the next bril­liant boxer isn't go­ing to be from Wick­low and when you take the ex­am­ple of Katie Tay­lor, who got to where she is de­spite a lack of fa­cil­i­ties, you'd have to say the fu­ture of box­ing in Wick­low looks very bright,” said Piaras.

Box­ing Clubs such as Wick­low, Rath­new, Ark­low, En­niskerry, and Bal­ly­waltrim, who on an­other day might find them­selves in op­pos­ing cor­ners of the ring, or sup­port­ing op­pos­ing teams and parishes through­out the county com­pet­ing for the Mi­ley Cup, will on this oc­ca­sion, join forces to take on the best box­ing club in Wales Caer­nor­fon - north Wales.

In to­tal there will be 17 top class box­ing bouts on the night in­clud­ing what prom­ises to be an en­ter­tain­ing bat­tle be­tween Coun­cil­lor Gail Dunne and Wick­lows Eu­gene Doo­ley who will also be tak­ing to the ring to help raise nec­es­sary funds for the club. Tick­ets cost €10 each or a fam­ily of four for €30. Tick­ets will be avail­able from club mem­bers, from the Grand Ho­tel re­cep­tion, from Piaras O’Sul­li­van on 087 6590722 or from Marie at Tom Do­ran’s shop Bal­lyguile.

Un­like many other box­ing clubs in the county Wick­low Box­ing Club, al­though a com­pletely vol­un­tary am­a­teur sport with over­heads pays rent on its premises. With this in mind Lisa Kelly, Peter Lough­lin, Tim Ka­vanagh and Fiona Ni­chols some par­ents of the box­ers re­cently came to­gether to form a fundrais­ing sub com­mit­tee for the club. They would be happy with any help or sug­ges­tions for fundrais­ing.

The chair­man echoed the call for fundrais­ing help.

“We are go­ing to rely hugely on the lo­cal com­mu­nity to get be­hind us and help us with fundrais­ing, just like any other club, but we are try­ing to build some­thing great, to have a re­ally strong club in Wick­low town that ev­ery­one can be part of and be proud of, any­one that would like to come for­ward and see what we are all about is more than wel­come,” said Piaras.

The box­ing club trains ev­ery Mon­day Wed­nes­day and Fri­day. From 6.30pm - 7.30pm for un­der-11s (Mon­day and Wed­nes­day only) and from 7.30pm - 9pm Mon­day, Wed­nes­day, and Fri­day for all com­pet­ing box­ers. They are open for new mem­bers par­tic­u­larly in our older group. There is also day­time train­ing at 1pm on Mon­day and Fri­day and ladies core fit­ness class on Thurs­days 6.30 - 7.30pm. All pro­ceeds go to­wards the box­ing club costs. Drop in or for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion con­tact us on 087`6590722 or find the club on Face­book.

Se­nior mem­bers of Wick­low Box­ing Club with their men­tors.

Ju­nior mem­bers of Wick­low Box­ing Club with their men­tors and com­mit­tee mem­bers.

Kayla Brady gets ready for a spar­ring ses­sion at Wick­low Box­ing Club.

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