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Former Irish boxing coach Billy Walsh says IABA board needs a 'good clear out'


Billy Walsh.

Billy Walsh.

Billy Walsh.

Former Irish boxing head coach Billy Walsh said the board of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) needs a “good clear out” to safeguard the future of the sport.

Mr Walsh left the Irish coaching scene and moved to his current role with US boxing following a disagreement over what powers he was afforded by the IABA.

His latest comments follow the resignation of Irish Boxing High Performance Unit director Bernard Dunne.

Mr Dunne resigned from his role last week following a complaint he made to IABA about an unsigned SWOT analysis critical of his performance which was circulated just before the Tokyo Olympic Games.

This week the Minister for Sport Jack Chambers said Irish boxing will suffer “immediate and severe financial consequences” if it does not implement recommendations from the independent report.

Minister Chambers said the IABA must “fully embrace and adopt” the recommendations of the report if it wishes to avoid financial penalties.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, Billy Walsh said Irish boxing risks “losing talent” if reforms are not implemented urgently.

“With radical financial sanctions I think that will happen. It’s time that the sport moved into the 21st century and stop losing performance directors and people who are great at their jobs,” he said.

“This high-performance unit, since 2003 when Gary Keegan set it up, since then we’ve won nine Olympic medals which has been phenomenal in that space of time and we’re going to lose all of that and all that talent and all of that success if we don’t reform.”

Minister Chambers has given the IABA three months to implement reforms and Mr Walsh said the association must comply or risk collapsing.

He said there are members of the IABA who have overseen the resignation of three sporting directors and “it’s time for a good clear out” and to bring in a new board.

Mr Walsh said he left Irish boxing because of issues regarding “control and power”.

“All I wanted was the autonomy to do my job and that was a big part of it and to be able to select your own destiny, select your own team to work with and to stop interference into the programme, team selection, all of that,” he said.

“They gave me a contract the was impossible to work in. So many restrictions on it.”

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Mr Walsh said many long-standing volunteers have done a lot of good work, however, certain “archaic” attitudes are holding Irish boxing back.

“You’ve got a professional unit working within an amateur organisation and people that are living in the past, and 'this is how we always done it and this is how we should do it', they’re not up to today’s governance practices and I think that’s why the high performance unit was put together because Irish boxing had fallen behind,” he said.

Mr Walsh added that he does not believe Bernard Dunne will return to the Irish boxing setup so long as the same IABA directors are in place.

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