Co Antrim boxing chiefs are looking to take their boxers to another level as they prepare to receive new funding to the tune of £200,000 per year over a three-year period.
Treasurer Paddy Barnes snr and his fellow Antrim council members deserve great credit for the way they have increased the international competition for the boxers under their jurisdiction in recent years, including hosting a multi nations in Belfast as well as numerous trips to Europe.
That has come at great cost but now Belfast City Council are about to rubber stamp a £600,000 package which is expected to include at least one development officer and a full-time coach.
Barnes snr said: “There are still a few things to be worked out but the funding is in place over three years and we are delighted with the investment.
“It means that we can fund trips to Europe to box teams like Belgium or France and also have our own tournament which is very costly.
“We have managed to give our senior boxers more competition whereas before they were just relying on the Ulster seniors and Irish seniors.
“Now we have the Antrim Elite championships as well as these multi nations so they can develop and this extra funding will help us to develop the lads even further.”
Meanwhile, Paddy admits son and Olympic bronze medallist Paddy jnr has been left bitterly disappointed by the decision to cancel the proposed Ireland-France international at the Odyssey Arena in May, which was only announced a couple of weeks ago.
Paddy snr said: “Patrick is gutted by the news because it was a rare chance that he would have had to represent Ireland in Belfast. It has only happened once before, against Italy. It’s also a very big disappointment to the boxing fraternity here.”