Saturday 19 October 2019

Paul Williams: Why did a respected boxing coach end up getting shot inside his own gym?

Pete Taylor (left) was injured in the attack, while innocent grandfather Bobby Messett (50) was killed in the shooting
Pete Taylor (left) was injured in the attack, while innocent grandfather Bobby Messett (50) was killed in the shooting
Pete Taylor pictured in Bray Boxing club. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Paul Williams

Paul Williams

WHY did someone who is renowned and respected in the international boxing arena,the dad who coached his daughter Katie to the status of Olympic champion and world-class fighter, end up getting shot by a crazed gunman in his own gym?

Who was prepared to order such an audacious gangland-style attack on a gym where innocent people were engaging in an early-morning workout?

The level of planning illustrates that it was not some impetuous act of violence conceived in a furious rage.

But now gangland shootings are the hallmark of a violent culture that has come to characterise organised crime in this country since the early 1990s.

Peter Taylor is not involved in organised crime, and he trains a large number of semi- and professional boxers and ordinary civilians at his gym.

The Bray Boxing Club is known as a respectable and prestigious establishment whose patronage is made up of law-abiding decent civilians.

And yet there is another dimension to yesterday’s appalling attack which will inevitably throw the focus of the spotlight yet again on the nexus between organised crime and the sport of boxing.

The involvement of international gang boss Daniel Kinahan in the boxing promotion business became the centre of world news when the Hutch gang sent a hit team into the Regency Hotel in February 2016 with the intention of killing him and his top associates.

There was also an attempted gangland killing outside a boxing event at the National Stadium in January of this year, when Kinahan associates ambushed Hutch gang members on their way to see the fight.

Kinahan and his mob are major players in the international boxing business – and law enforcement agencies here and in the UK believe they have a sinister hold over the sport.

And to that end the Gardaí have not ruled out the possibility that Pete Taylor may have found himself in the firing line simply because he was training a number of boxers associated with a company which has been linked to Daniel Kinahan.

If that is so, it shows the extraordinary depths of depravity that both sides in this feud have sunk to in the past two years.

The spectre of organised crime that looms over Irish boxing is best illustrated with the large number of heavily armed gardaí deployed at big boxing tournaments in the past two years.

Unlike in neighbouring states, the mission is not to counter a terror threat from the likes of Isil but to prevent our own home-grown narco terrorists launching attacks on their enemies.

Another major boxing event was cancelled because Garda chiefs said they did not have the numbers of armed cops necessary to adequately protect it.

Extraordinary stuff, and the net effect for Irish boxing, which has given us much national pride and provided a wonderful outlet for younger generations, is disrepute because of the presence of these corrosive thugs.

The madness we witnessed yesterday also causes reputational damage to Ireland on the international stage.

It defies belief that a sport can be used as a platform for gangland violence.

We cannot ever forget that an innocent citizen lost his life as he prepared for an early-morning workout when a gunman opened fire with no concern for anyone caught in the crossfire of his deadly assignment.

That man had a family, friends and a life he cherished.

He should have lived to a ripe old age and been remembered fondly by his loved ones when he passed away in normal circumstances.

Instead, his name will be forever remembered with the rest of a growing list of innocent people indiscriminately gunned down by mad men.

Unlike the sport of pugilism, criminals do not heed the equivalent of the Marquess of Queensbury Rules.

There is just one rule: kill the target, no matter who gets in the way.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News