Irish amateur boxing set for possible split amid claims of sectarianism

The Northern Ireland assembly has voted in favour the establishment of a Northern Ireland Amateur Boxing association, altering the current set up which means that all amateur boxers in the country compete for Ireland in the Olympics under the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA).

The vote follows months of claims from Sandy Row, a mainly Protestant club, that memers of the club were subject to ‘chronic sectarianism’ while boxing in nationalist clubs.

The move comes after the Traditional Unionist Voice party proposed an amendment to the Democratic Unionist Party’s debate on the alocation of funding to clubs in Protestant and Catholic areas.

Sinn Fein sports minister Caral Ni Chuilin said earlier in the year that boxing would receive £3m in funding this year, leading the DUP to begin the motion which called on the minister to make sure funding was distributed “equitably across all communities”.

Sinn Fein MLA Cathal O hOisin agreed with the amendment saying, Funding should be allocated not because of whether the club is Protestant of Catholic, or unionist or nationalist, but regardless of it.”

Sandy Row brought the issue to light in the summer, following Belfast boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon’s bronze medals at the London Olympics, detailing incidents of sectarian abuse fo their boxers from 2000-2010.

“When the young people from Sandy Row went along to boxing championships they suffered different forms of abuse, either physical or mental, ” saidlub secretary Ian McSorley.

The first incident is alleged to have taken place in 2000 when members of the club was stoned leaving the championships in Twinbrook, County Antrim .

“It’s a very frightening experience, for anybody to take up boxing, get in the boxing ring… never mind getting abuse or stoned,” Mr McSorley told the BBC.

In February 2010, a 15 year old Chinese boxer had a bottle thrown at him and he was called an “Orange chink”.

The boxer in question is reported to have said, “I was really scared and I thought we weren’t getting out of there. It’s put me off boxing”.


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