Joe Brolly's call to ban boxing and MMA after death slammed by former Irish Olympic coach
A legendary figure in Northern Ireland boxing last night slammed newspaper columnist Joe Brolly over calls for "violent pro sports" like boxing to be banned.
Former GAA star Brolly - who said he was once an amateur boxer himself - also claimed fighters were trying to "murder" each other.
He called for the pro sports of mixed martial arts and boxing to be scrapped following the death of Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho after a fight in Dublin.
Writing in his column in the Sunday Independent, he said: "These violent life-and-death sports are fun. They bring us to somewhere primitive inside us."
- Read more: Joe Brolly: Is it good enough that a young man be beaten to death in a cage for our amusement?
He said public interest was akin to the crowds which used to gather at the Colosseum in Rome to watch people being knifed to death.
Brolly added: "It is why young, penniless men are queueing up to try to murder each other in cages and boxing rings.
"The law permits it. And it shouldn't. Time to ban these violent pro sports. Sometimes, human beings have to be protected from themselves."
Brolly said he used to love boxing and was a "bad amateur boxer myself" and was expelled from the St Canice's Club in Dungiven "for kicking an opponent during a bout".
The RTE pundit's call for a boxing ban has generated anger in places like Belfast, which is famous for its boxing clubs, has a proud history in the sport and is a place where stars like Carl Frampton have a huge fan base.
Veteran trainer Gerry Storey, who has been associated with the Holy Family club in north Belfast from just after World War Two, rejected Brolly's calls for boxing to be banned.
He has coached former world champion Barry McGuigan and also the Irish Olympic boxing team and is a renowned name in the sport.
He said: "If some of the rest of the sports had the medical back-up we have and what our kids and boys go through they would not come off with any talk like that.
"If they are looking for dangerous sports, they will find we are way down, I think 17th or 18th or maybe more than some of the simple sports that people have for pastimes.
"I am not knocking any sport, but some of the other sports have fatalities that are a lot, lot higher than you would imagine.
"I can't speak for the MMA, but all I know is that where the international boxing scene is concerned, when do you hear of fatalities there?"
He said that he thought the comments from Brolly were "crazy".
He added: "If all those sports closed up and put the kids on the street, where would we be? Where would the rest of the sports go?
"If he could come round, I can invite him round to Holy Family and there will be 45 kids and he will see the way they are supervised and organised and let him tell me where the danger comes in."