In a year when the Irish Amateur Boxing Association celebrates its 100th birthday it is fitting that last night’s Annual Awards gala at the Louis Fitzgerald hotel in Dublin should honour Katie Taylor and the European Senior Championships team’s medal winners ,( Paddy Barnes, Darren O’Neill, Eric Donovan, Tyrone McCullagh and Ken Egan) all of whom shared the Elite Achievement Award as the association ended another great year, in a period described by MC , Jimmy Magee as ‘the golden era of Irish boxing’.
Taylor, the current World, European, EU and Irish champion and AIBA World female boxer of the year, and only on Friday confirmed by leading women’s boxing journal WBAN as World No 1 “Amateur of the Year” (for a record breaking fourth successive time) and Barnes, the reigning European, Commonwealth and Irish champion and 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, also shared the ‘Best Overall Boxer’ award.
Current AIBA World Youth and Olympic Youth champions Joe Ward and Ryan Burnett had their outstanding achievements in 2010 deservedly recognised, while the Ryston BC in Kildare annexed the ‘ Best club’ and ‘Best coaches’ category awards..
European bronze medallist Eric Donovan collected the Elite boxer award. “I’ve have a fantastic twelve months and I’ll be looking to improve on that this year, said the St Michael’s Athy lightweight. “It’s always special to receive an award like this and to receive it in the Association’s centenary year is extra special.”
Jim McCourt was inducted into the IABA Hall of Fame. McCourt ,one will recall, won a bronze medal at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo – (the only Irish medal winner at that Games) and a bronze at the 1965 European Championships.
He also claimed Commonwealth gold and seven Irish senior titles at three different weights in a career spanning the 60s and 70s.
The Northern Ireland team were also honoured following their sensational haul of three gold and two silver medals at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India where the team was led by Eamon O’Kane, the 27 yrs old from Feeney near Dungiven.
Young Geesala,Co Mayo boxer Katie Rowland, a silver medal winner at the European Youth Championships in Calais-Sangatte , was suitably honoured along with nine other boxers in the Schoolboy/girl Youth International category.
Sean Crowley was also inducted into the IABA Hall of Fame in recognition of his outstanding contribution as an administrator to Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport, while Anna Moore and Al Morris got the decision in the best Referee & Judge category. Great to see Zuar Antia receive a Special ‘ Achievement Award’ – richly deserved though one is surprised that no formal award recognition, went to Peter Taylor .Has any Irish (or other) boxing coach been responsible for coaching any boxer to 3 World, 4 European, 3 European Union titles (albeit not all in 2010),as Peter Taylor has? Others who deserve special mention for their part in the 2010 success story are High Performance Unit supremo Billy Walsh and women’s National Development Manager, Anja Norman, though here it may well simply a case that IABA employees are not eligible.
Among those attending last night’s event were John Treacy, Chief Executive of the Irish Sports Council and Pat Hickey, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland as well as leading IABA figures including Dr John Lynch, Chairman of the Board of Directors, CEO Don Stewart, and Director of Boxing ,Dominic O’Rourke
IABA President Tommy Murphy said that ‘ Ireland’s boxers were a credit to their country’, adding that the achievements of 2010 marked Ireland out as one of the top amateur boxing nations in the world’. In the European championships in Moscow Ireland finished second only to Russia.
2011 promises to be another great year for the sport in Ireland with the European Championships being held in Dublin and with such as Burnett,Ward,Rowland and other your prospective ‘stars of the future’ improving all the time there will be many opportunities for the younger brigade to further impress the coaches and selectors as they bid for a place in London 2012. Deserving winners all.
Last night’s award winners in full:
Elite Achievement Awards
International Achievement Awards
David Oliver Joyce
John Joe Nevin
Commonwealth Games Medallists
Schoolboy/girl Youth International Awards
John Joe Joyce
AIBA World Youth Championships
Schoolboy: Bernard McDonagh
Youth: Christy Joyce
Junior: Stephen Broadhurst
U/21: Kieran Forde
Intermediate: Sean Allen
Elite: Eric Donovan
Best Club: Ryston
Best Coach(s): Ryston
Referee & Judge: Anna Moore/ Al Morris
Achievement award: Zuar Antia
Hall of Fame