Thursday 22 February 2018

IABA board set to adopt new rule book as row rumbles on

Bernard Dunne, the newlyappointed High Performance director full authority over team selection. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Bernard Dunne, the newlyappointed High Performance director full authority over team selection. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

The internal turmoil within Irish boxing looks set to escalate in the wake of an announcement by the Association's Board of Directors that they will adopt a new rule book without consulting the IABA's membership.

The board, headed by president Joe Christle, issued a 1,500-word statement in which they repudiated many of the claims made in a letter which the association's elected president Pat Ryan sent to Christle earlier this week.

While Sport Ireland recognise Christle as president of the Board of Directors, this is disputed by the association's Central Council who claim that Waterford's David O'Brien was elected as Christle's successor last March.

In their statement the "official" Board of Directors question the legitimacy of the meeting at which O'Brien was elected.

However, their decision to go ahead and adopt a new rule book is certain to cause a new furore and will almost certainly be challenged by the elected officers and the wider IABA membership.

The significance of the new rule book is that it includes changes to the rules of the Association which, if passed, would give authority to Bernard Dunne, the newly-appointed High Performance director full authority over team selection.

The latest row in the ongoing civil war between the two factions erupted when the IABA Central Council initially over-ruled Dunne's recommendation for a box-off between Martin Keenan and Dean Gardiner to decide which boxer represented Ireland in the super heavyweight category at the forthcoming European championships.

The Central Council selected Gardiner but later agreed to have a box-off which the latter won.

However, Sport Ireland who provide 85 per cent of the IABA's total budget, has threatened to withdraw their funding at the end of July unless the organisation adopts a new rule book. But in his letter to Christle, Pat Ryan clearly stated that he believed the Central Council should continue to oversee international team selections.

According to the Board of Directors' statement, a draft of the new rule book, which was prepared by solicitor Sarah O'Shea, who carried out a review of the IABA after their disastrous performance at the Rio Olympics and was later elected secretary of the Olympic Council of Ireland, has been ready since mid-March.

"Despite, a number of requests to meet with members of Central Council on the new rule book they have not made themselves available to meet.

"It had been the intention of the Board of Directors once a draft was agreed with Central Council representatives to hold explanatory meetings with the wider IABA membership to outline the proposed changes and why they were considered necessary. This would have been an integral part of similar processes adopted by other sporting organisations when making similar changes.

"However, in light of the deadline imposed by Sport Ireland as a key stakeholder and principal funder, the Board feel they have no choice given their legal duty to protect the viability of the organisation to propose a rule book to give effect to changes to include the Rio recommendations for adoption at a meeting to be held on June 14," according to the statement.

Ironically, the extent of the split between the two factions is revealed in the final paragraph of the statement which states that a delegation from the Central Council have been invited to attend the Board meeting on June 14.

The fact is that Pat Ryan and other elected officers have a right to sit on the Board of Directors but on the basis of this statement it appears they have not attended Board meetings at which Joe Christle has presided at in recent months.

The central council will meet this morning (11.0) at the National Stadium.

Meanwhile, Ryan Burnett has the chance to become a world champion in his home town of Belfast tonight.

Undefeated Burnett, who claimed gold for Ireland at light-flyweight at the Youth Olympics in 2010, meets defending IBF bantam champion Lee Haskins at the Odyssey Arena.

Bristol southpaw Haskins (33), who is eight years Burnett's senior, has already defended his title twice and boasts career stats of 34 wins from 37 outings.

"I've got shivers up my spine, but I will become world champion," added Burnett.

Tonight's undercard features an Irish title battle between Luke Watkins and Ian Timms.

Ryan Burnett v Lee Haskins,

Live, Sky Sports 2, from 8.0

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