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'Nobody wanted Billy to leave' IABA tells Oireachtas committee

The boxing chiefs were answering questions about the Billy Walsh saga today.

The IABA answering questions at the Transport Committee.
The IABA answering questions at the Transport Committee.

THE IRISH AMATEUR BOXING Association (IABA) have rejected any assertion that they orchestrated a campaign to “oust” Billy Walsh from his role within the organisation’s High Performance Unit.

Speaking today at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications, Joe Christle — chairman of the IABA — said they wanted Walsh to stay despite many months of what he admits were difficult contract negotiations.

“We wanted Billy to stay,” Christle said.

“It’s a source of huge regret that Billy decided to resign but any suggestion that any director wanted Billy to leave is totally and utterly rejected.

“The suggestion that he is the victim of a campaign to oust him from his job is untrue.”

John Treacy, the chief executive of Sport Ireland who were also appearing in front of the committee, rejected the IABA’s claims that negotiations centred on money, instead stating the main stumbling blocks were in relation to non-financial matters such as team selection.

He added that some of the claims by the IABA recently were a clear attempt distract from their failure to retain Walsh.

Treacy went on to suggest there was tension between the high performance unit and the IABA and put on record his organisation’s appreciation for Walsh who had “rare and sophisticated skills and will be missed by all.”

He also said that Sport Ireland are not attempting to undermine the IABA.

Elsewhere, USA Boxing released a statement welcoming Walsh to their team.

“The United States currently has one of the strongest women’s boxing programs in the world, but USA Boxing’s female athletes will now have another tool at their disposal heading in to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“USA Boxing has named highly decorated international coach Billy Walsh to serve as the organisation’s Women’s National Team Coach.

“A 1988 Olympian and the architect behind the most successful era in Irish boxing, Walsh brings his extensive expertise to USA Boxing’s women’s program.”

In the statement, Walsh himself said:

“I am greatly looking forward to the opportunities ahead in bringing my expertise and experience to the United States Women’s Team as they prepare for success in Rio and beyond.”

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Steve O'Rourke

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