Thursday 19 October 2017

Bernard Dunne unveiled as High Performance Director for Irish boxing amid IABA controversy

Bernard Dunne, centre, pictured at his announcement as the High Performance Director for Irish Athletic Boxing Association, with boxers, from left, Darren O'Neill, Christina Desmond, Brendan Irvine, and Joe Ward, at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Bernard Dunne, centre, pictured at his announcement as the High Performance Director for Irish Athletic Boxing Association, with boxers, from left, Darren O'Neill, Christina Desmond, Brendan Irvine, and Joe Ward, at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus in Abbotstown, Dublin. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

Former World champion Bernard Dunne has been unveiled as Irish boxing's new High Performance director.

Dunne, who was never beaten at amateur level in Ireland but missed out on Olympic selection for the Sydney Games, later won the WBA World bantamweight belt in the professional ranks.

“This is the dream job.” said Dunne, who will step down from his role as as performance and life style coach with the Dublin senior football team. He is currently completing a master's degree in exercise and sports psychology and will take up his new role early next month.

He immediately set an ambitious target for the new look new Irish team whose first big test since the disastrous Rio Olympics comes at the forthcoming European championships in the Ukraine

Boxers have to reach the quarter-finals of this tournament to qualify for the World championships in in Hamburg later in the year. Dunne said he wanted ten Irish boxers – the maximum number allowed – to qualify for the World tests.

He said he was looking forward to working alongside head coach Zaur Anita who he has met on a number of occasions in recent weeks. “I see myself as a facilitator,” he said. He said he didn't foresee any conflict arising with the Head Coach.

“Zaur does not need my input into coaching,” said Dunne, who revealed that he had also spoken to Billy Walsh, who had been acting Head Performance Director until he left the IABA in late 2016 to take up a role with US boxing.

Dunne's appointment was somewhat overshadowed, however, by confirmation that a serious split has arisen in the IABA's Board of Directors, which is the ultimate decision making body in the organisation.

Since the establishment of the Board of Directors more than a decade ago there has been a simmering row between this body and the elected officials of the Irish Athletic Boxing Association who make up the Boxing Council of the IABA, who run boxing on a day to day basis.

Members of the Boxing Council including the current President of the IABA Pat Ryan serve on the Board of Directors but a majority of these Boxing Council members have effectively rebelled against the Board of Directors which is chaired by Joe Christle.

I understand that five members of the Board of directors held a meeting on March 27 at which Waterford boxing official David O'Brien – who was nominated as a member of the Board by the previous chairman John Lynch – was elected as the new 'Chairman' of the Board of directors.

They argue they had a quorum and had the authority to do so – a claim flatly rejected by the CEO of the IABA Fergal Carruth.

The current Chairman of the Board of Directors Joe Christle acknowledged he was aware that the meeting on March 27 had taken place but he pointed out that David O'Brien had not been registered as the chairman of the Board in the company registrars office and as far as he was concerned he (Christle) was the chairman.

He acknowledged there were differences of opinion between himself and the President of the IABA Pat Ryan, who is currently out of the country, and he revealed that a third party had been brought in to mediate between the sides.

He presided at the Board meeting last night at which Bernard Dunne's appointment was ratified. He said there were six members present – one of which Kevin Duffy is a member of the Boxing Council.

David O'Brien told me last night that he believed he was the chairman of the Board of Directors and while they had no issue with Bernard Dunne appointment of High Performance director he argued that board under the chairmanship of Joe Christle did not have the authority to sign off on the deal.

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