Cash boost to help Northern Ireland’s boxing clubs off the ropes
With Northern Ireland’s boxers counting down towards their best ever Olympic Games, a Stormont Minister has announced a £3m boost for the sport.
Caral Ni Chuilin said boxing here had been underfunded for decades.
“Over £3m through Sport NI will be invested in boxing,” the North Belfast MLA said.
“It is only an initial investment but it is to make sure that boxing clubs have facilities that are fit for purpose.”
The minister also congratulated Belfast’s medal-winning boxers Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes.
Falls Road man Conlon grew up and trained at the St John Bosco Boxing Club where his father John Conlan, originally from Drimnagh in south Dublin, coached him and inspired him to seek Olympic glory.
Gerard McClafferty, a coach at the boxing club, said: “This club is 70 years old this year.
“We still have no toilets, or running water or heating or changing facilities but we're still getting champions.”
The minister — who will visit the club today — said Conlan’s journey from Belfast to the Olympics has been an inspiration.
Ms Ni Chuilin also paid tribute to Paddy Barnes as he made Olympic history by becoming the first Irish boxer to get medals at two successive Olympics.
“Well done Paddy — his achievement will make news around the world and it's not over yet as he fights this weekend for silver or even gold.
“We have five medals at the games — we have truly rowed for glory and are punching above our weight.”
She added: “In communities like this one and across the North, boxing is much more than a sport, it is a life-saver. It takes children off the street, it gives them a sense of self worth, it gives them a sense of discipline to perform and, as Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes and the other great local boxers have shown, they can perform at the highest level.”