Belfast Lord Mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile, Northern Ireland Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin and Dermot Sherlock, the honorary secretary of the Irish Olympic Council, bobbed and weaved their way through a unique gathering of Belfast’s Olympic boxing legends today.
The dignitaries welcomed ring greats such as Freddie Gilroy, Hugh Russell, John McNally, Davy Larmour and Gerry Hamill, to Belfast’s historical City Hall, in recognition of their achievements at the Olympic Games.
Amateur boxing, the most successful sport in Irish Olympic boxing history, has produced 13 medals and from that remarkable collection, Belfast boxers brought eight back to the city.
The city’s Lord Mayor, Niall Ó Donnghaile, said: “It’s an exciting time for boxing and we have a lot to be proud of when we look back over the history of it in the city of Belfast.
“It is also important to remember the individuals who have worked in the gyms, having trained the boxers and the families who have supported them through difficult times. It is a fitting time to recognise our boxers in the year of the Olympics taking place in London. Amateur boxing is probably in the best state of health it has ever been in.”
Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin, said: “For a sport that has not had great investment, we have got an awful lot out of it. Boxing has yielded more medals from the Olympics than any other sport, and I am keen to make sure that we have a proper strategy with investment that gives it support.”
Dermot Sherlock, the honorary secretary of the Irish Olympic Council, said: “We are celebrating the success of Belfast boxers in the Olympic Games. Belfast boxers have won more Olympic medals than any other area In Ireland. It is an honour and a delight to be among some of the greatest boxers Ireland has produced, and to see some old friends again.”
Mr Sherlock also conveyed his best wishes on behalf of the Irish Olympic Council to 1968 Olympian Jim McCourt, who is recovering from illness.
The event was organised by the Belfast Boxing Ring Committee, which aims to highlight the role of the sport in the city’s history. One of its objectives is to erect a series of statues of boxing legends across the city.
With Belfast’s Michael Conlan having already qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games, it is hoped he will be joined there by Irish elite champions Paddy Barnes and Tommy McCarthy.
BELFAST’S OLYMPIC BOXERS
1. 1928 – Jack Garland (Beechmount) Team GB
2. 1948 – Willie Barnes (Windsor)
3. 1952 – John McNally (White City)
4. 1952 – Terry Milligan (Short and Harland)
5. 1952 – John Lyttle (St. George’s)
6. 1956 – John Caldwell (Immaculata)
7. 1956 – Freddie Gilroy (St. John Bosco)
8. 1956 – Martin Smyth (Star)
9. 1960 – Berni Meli (Immaculata)
10. 1960 – Adam McClean (Crown)
11. 1964 – Jim McCourt (Immaculata)
12. 1964 – Paddy Fitzsimons (St. George’s)
13. 1964 – Sean McCafferty (St. John Bosco)
14. 1968 – Martin Quinn (St. John Bosco)
15. 1968 – Jim McCourt (Immaculata)
16. 1972 – Jim Montague (Star)
17. 1976 – David Larmour (Albert Foundry)
18. 1976 – Gerry Hamill (Holy Family)
19. 1980 – Hugh Russell (Holy Family)
20. 1980 – Gerry Hawkins (Holy Trinity)
21. 1984 – Sam Storey (Holy Family)
22. 1984 – Gerry Hawkins (Holy Trinity)
23. 1988 – Wayne McCullough (Albert Foundry)
24. 1988 – Paul Douglas (Holy Family)
25. 1988 – John Lowey (Ledley Hall)
26. 1992 – Wayne McCullough (Albert Foundry)
27. 1996 – Damaen Kelly (Holy Trinity)
28. 1996 – Brian Magee (Holy Trinity)
29. 2008 – Paddy Barnes (Holy Family)
30. 2012 – Michael Conlon (St. John Bosco)
31. 2010 – Ryan Burnett (Holy Family) – Olympic Youth Games
For further information contact: Barry Flynn on 07899961197, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Alex McGreevy on 07966 276 993, email: email@example.com
Note to Editors:
Belfast Boxing Ring Committee members:
Chairman – Alex Maskey: A former amateur boxer with the Holy Family Boxing Club, he progressed into a life of politics and is an elected representative. He was elected as Lord Mayor of Belfast in 2002/3.
Alex is a former Down and Connor title winner, and an Ulster champion, having enjoyed over 70 amateur fights during his boxing career. He also fought numerous times on the same fight cards as Hollywood star Liam Neeson.
Alex McGreevy: Alex is a sports journalist and sports agent, who has covered boxing since beginning his career with the Irish News and thereafter as a writer for the Daily Mirror and Sunday People. He has acted as media officer for the Holy Family Boxing Club and the Ireland division of the World Kickboxing Network. He boxed as a youngster with the Oliver Plunkett Club in Belfast.
Barry Flynn: Journalist and author, Barry has published a series of successful boxing books including Forgotten Man – The John McNally Story, and Political Football: The Life and Death of Belfast Celtic.
He works as a freelance reporter for BBC Radio Ulster. He was a young boxer with St Agnes Boxing Club in west-Belfast.
Davy Larmour: Born on the Shankill Road of Belfast, he was the only boxer to win Commonwealth boxing medals at different Games. He also represented Ireland in the Montreal Olympics in 1976 and after turning professional he won the British Bantamweight title in 1993 with a victory over fellow Belfast native Hugh Russell.
Harry Doherty: Has enjoyed a 35-year association in amateur boxing with the Holy Family club in Belfast. He was a member of the Ulster Council and the Central Council of the IABA.
The 67-year-old is a former vice-President of the IABA and is an Honorary President of Golden Gloves USA.
Eamon McAuley: The north-Belfast man reigned as the ABA Champion in 1985 and is an avid boxing historian and fan. A member of the highly regarded Belfast boxing family, Eamon served his amateur career in the Sacred Heart Club. He won 12 out 13 professional bouts.
He is a relative of the late, great Rinty Monaghan.
The Belfast Boxing Ring is a committee recognised by Belfast City Council. Its purpose is to highlight the role the sport of boxing played in the history of the city.