Tommy Dickson/INPHO
boxing row

Irish boxing row deepens as Central Council to hold talks today

There was another long statement issued last night.

THE OUTCOME OF a meeting of the Irish Athletic Boxing Association’s (IABA) Central Council today could have a major impact on the protracted ‘civil war’ that has engulfed Irish boxing.

The role of Central Council – who have traditionally played an influential role in team selection – is among a number of issues raised in a statement published by the IABA’s Board of Directors on Friday night in response to what they call “selective leaking to the media of a letter from IABA President Pat Ryan to Chairman Joe Christle” earlier this week.

The statement, posted on the IABA website late on Friday evening, is a rebuttal to leaked correspondence from Ryan to Christle, which appeared on social media on Wednesday night.

That letter revealed that Ryan continues to support Waterford’s David O’Brien claim that he is chairman of the IABA ahead of incumbent Christle, who is recognised to hold that position by Sport Ireland.

The IABA president also detailed a number of grievances and concerns that have led to a divide between the sport’s hierarchy and Central Council as well as grassroots members.

In the statement issued by the IABA board, the pro-Christle board members emphasise that they have received legal advice to support Christle’s position as chairman, while they dismiss a disputed March vote that saw O’Brien ‘elected’ to that position by five board members as illegitimate, claiming that meeting was “not properly convened” in order to take such a vote.

Notably, the board’s statement reiterates their intention to introduce a new IABA Rule Book as demanded by Sport Ireland, which would be in keeping with the post-Olympic ‘Rio Review’ that essentially called for the High Performance Unit to be given full autonomy on team selection.

The introduction of a new rule book is one of the main sticking points in an ongoing row that has divided Irish boxing as the IABA’s Central Council has traditionally had an influence on team selections.

Bernard Dunne Bernard Dunne. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

A recent dispute surrounding High Performance Director Bernard Dunne’s super-heavyweight recommendations for the forthcoming European Championships revived the contentious debate, eventually leading to Sport Ireland imposing a 30 June deadline for a new rule book to be introduced or else the IABA’s public funding for the final quarter of 2017 will be suspended.

The board’s statement suggests that members of Central Council have not made themselves available to discuss a draft of the Rule Book finalised last March.

While the board are somewhat conciliatory towards aggrieved Central Council officials and members as the statement claims they “recognise that boxing simply could not survive without the incredible work of our many volunteers”, they also dispute Ryan’s suggestion that suspension of funding will not impact on the possible success of Irish boxers at Elite level.

“It is simply not realistic to think that a High Performance Programme can deliver success on the international stage without a dedicated and specialised team and support personnel given the demands and competitive nature of elite sport,” reads the statement.

The IABA board are due to meet next Wednesday, with the statement detailing that “a delegation from Central Council have been invited… and we very much hope that they will attend.”

The IABA’s Central Council are due to meet on today to discuss the ongoing administration dispute in the sport.

O’Brien’s claim to be chairman of the association seems likely to receive strong support at the meeting following Ryan’s declaration that he is backing the Waterford man.

‘Tommy Walsh often convinced himself he wasn’t injured, so maybe he’ll have a chat with Padraig’

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