A CLUB WITH COMMUNITY SPIRIT
Wicklow Boxing Club fostering the hopes and dreams of it's members
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.