Amy Broadhurst, the 20 year old from the Dealgan club is once again faced with returning to England this Spring and unless the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) acts promptly is likely to be lost to Irish boxing for ever more.
Dad and Dealgan club coach Tony is English thus Amy qualifies to represent England in major boxing Internationals and Team GB in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
It would be an even bigger ‘loss’ when one considers that her dearest wish is to represent Ireland in Tokyo, should she qualify through the AIBA Olympic qualifying system, though that in itself would not be easy since there are likely to be other talented boxers competing for that 60kg Irish vest worn with pride for so many years by Katie Taylor.
Shauna O’Keeffe from Clonmel BC reached the Irish Elite final a year ago and will not be easily defeated when this year’s tournament gets under way next month. She hopes to turn her last year’s Silver to Gold this time round.
Geesala’s Ciara Ginty the former AIBA World Junior champion makes a welcome return to the National scene also next month and is another very talented young future prospect, though she could enter at 64kg at least this year. Who knows maybe 64kg will be an Olympic weight when the decision is taken early this year by the IOC/AIBA, or will Ginty seek Lightweight Gold in Tokyo?
Others too will bid to become the successor to the Bray boxer who struck 19 Gold medals for Ireland during her great career which came to an end when she turned Professional after Tokyo.
Broadhurst will take part in this month’s Irish national Under 22 event which has but 16 entries, for the whole tournament. It seems unusual that the IABA, knowing that there were so few in that age bracket who would qualify under the stringent rules, should have introduced a new event in a year when there is no International under 22 event for females albeit there is one for males in that age bracket.
Amy’s Dad, Tony said as yet there is no funding for the future and she would have all the expenses one incurs in full time training including regular travel to Dublin, overnight stays during championships events and sparring and so will be left with no alternative but to move back to England after the Elites. Amy may well end up representing England/Team GB whose top boxers receive generous funding from UK Sport, itself supported by the National Lottery to a very large extent. Perhaps Sport Ireland and IABA could put pressure on government to ensure the Lotto could do the same in Ireland? When did the IABA last meet with Lotto organisers?
Sports Minister Patrick O’Donovan or ‘boss’ Shane Ross needs to intervene and see that young talented Irish sports stars, male and female, get adequate funding and in the case of boxing, if the Government has to enforce action such as withholding funds from the IABA until they do act, then tough though that may seem, it might act as a ‘wakeup call’.
One has to say that despite the ideas put forward in the 2017-2020 Irish Boxing strategy document, it is extremely sad when such a talented young athlete as Amy has to leave these shores because the IABA and its funding agencies cannot offer her even a paid part time job. There were a few new ideas in the strategy document which a new sporting organisation would wish promote but the IABA has been in existence since 1911 and should long since have had such systems in place.
Past and Present CEO’s and Executives have failed the current crop of young boxers by failing to ’plan for future generations’.
Indeed had it not been for the considerable efforts of the Taylor family would Katie have ever achieved such massive success? True they did provide funding once she was already a top international boxer but that was years after she made her debut on the International scene.
Katie Taylor apart, the IABA and its associates have rarely funded an Irish female boxer (Christina Desmond did have limited Sport Ireland funding for a short period, also now ceased). How can a country like Ireland expect boxers like Broadhurst, O’Keeffe, Ginty, Desmond, Donna Barr, Ceire Smith, Michaela Walsh, Gráinne Walsh and others ever succeed in the International arena when they get zero funding at home? Same applies to young males seeking funding. They’re all in the same boat.
Most would have long since turned away from the sport were it not for considerable financial assistance from their family and friends.
For the Broadhursts’ it would be a double blow as even if son Stephen should win the 75kg crown at the Elites, he too will get no funding and is almost certain to have to remain in Dundalk and seek employment in a town which has few new jobs right now, certainly not of the type that would allow him generous time off to compete in sparring or travel to tournaments.
How sad to hear Tony say (of Amy) : “She will be entered at 60kg for the U22’s and then the Elites, then she’ll be going to England after Elites here; as far as I know there isn’t anything for her here except full time training with no funding’.
Stephen’s case is even more frustrating because due his commitments he needs to be in Dundalk, but not living with family, and thus is unable to fund the cost of travel to/from Dublin for regular training sessions.
SportsNews IRELAND hopes that an enterprising company be it of Irish or International origin would only be too proud to offer employment to Amy & Stephen Broadhurst knowing that with their financial support she or he could one day be a European, World or Olympic champion.
We can but pray that some enterprising company out there will one day before it is too late pick up the phone to Tony Broadhurst and offer financial assistance and sponsorship. What a great honour it would be for that Company as well as for the family to see ‘their boxer’ on the Podium in the European Championship or indeed a future Olympic Games as the band strike up : “Amhrán na bhFiann”
Meantime SportsNews IRELAND would welcome hearing from Sport Ireland, the Olympic Council of Ireland, the Sports Minister and especially the IABA as to what they ARE DOING to ensure that boxers like the Broadhursts and others do have that opportunity of joining Michael Carruth and Katie Taylor as Olympic Gold medallists or equal the feats of such as Conlan, Barnes and Taylor in World championships.
Sponsorship is needed NOW not four years down the line and do remember that despite the disappointments of Rio, boxing is still the sport that has brought most medals to Ireland in recent Olympics and is likely to do so again in the foreseeable future if these well-funded bodies get their acts together and look to the future and now! They had a Commercial Manager in recent years but he has now left and still no major sponsorship deals that would allow significant funding for young future stars.
Email us at: email@example.com or establish contact through our Facebook and/or Twitter sites. We await that contact with interest.