THERE may still be tensions between the Irish Sports Council and amateur boxing, but none of that mattered at the National Stadium on Friday night.
The council has issues with some of the practices of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, and the same is also true in reverse, but despite this the sport is flourishing and although one may never say it about the other, both bodies have played a part in that.
The depth of talent in Irish boxing was on full display at the national elite finals, the highlight of which was Joe Ward's sensational victory over Kenny Egan.
Egan is one of 20 boxers being funded by the sports council this year, which has made €472,000 available on the carding scheme to amateur boxing. Egan is one of eight classified as 'podium' class, entitling him to the €40,000 maximum. Ward is a newcomer to the scheme, and is in the international category, which means he receives €12,000.
But the national elite championships are now as intensely competitive as at any time. Boxing is undoubtedly proof that money well spent does deliver achievement. Our amateur boxers are now among the best in the world and yet the great irony is that winning a national title can be the most difficult of all.
Of the eight 'podium' fighters, four won national titles on Friday night, John Joe Nevin, Paddy Barnes, Katie Taylor (in a walkover) and Darren O'Neill. The next category is 'world class' and lightweight David Oliver Joyce, the only boxer in this class, was beaten by Michael McDonagh. The remaining 11 fighters on the carding scheme are all 'international' class, of which Ross Hickey and Ward were the only two to win at the championships.
This does not mean the money has not been well spent, only that fighters cannot afford to rest on their laurels.
Sunday Indo Sport