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Major international boxing event to be held in Northern Ireland in doubt after Belfast City Council defers funding decision

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A funding row has broken out at Belfast City Council over an international grassroots boxing championship to be held this summer. (stock photo)

A funding row has broken out at Belfast City Council over an international grassroots boxing championship to be held this summer. (stock photo)

A funding row has broken out at Belfast City Council over an international grassroots boxing championship to be held this summer. (stock photo)

A funding row has broken out at Belfast City Council over an international grassroots boxing championship to be held this summer.

Representatives from the Ulster Boxing Council went to City Hall this week to appeal for help in financing the 2020 European Schoolboys and Schoolgirls Boxing Championships.

But they left empty-handed after a bitter debate resulted in a deferred decision.

Sinn Fein proposed that the event receives an immediate cash boost of £100,000 from council underspend this year, on top of £70,000 already committed before its initial application.

Ulster Boxing has also approached Sports Ireland, the Northern Ireland Department for Communities and Tourism NI for funding. If funding is confirmed, the competition - to be held in Queen's Physical Education Centre (PEC) - will run from June 30-July 10 and will be streamed on the European Council's YouTube and social media platforms.

Liam Corr, Belfast Boxing Development Officer, told councillors: "This is the biggest grasroots boxing tournament in the world. It is the first time the event has come to the city, so it is a major coup."

Mr Corr anticipates between 35 and 40 countries will attend, with around 750 participants.

"We also envisage it will bring 10,000 people to the city over the 10 days of the competition, and will bring between £1.5m to £2m in revenue to the city," he added.

Sinn Fein councillor Ciaran Beattie said: "The boxing championship starts in three months' time. Three months to organise a European championship, so bed nights have to be booked, halls have to be booked, equipment needs to be booked.

"When it comes to boxing, there is always an issue, it has to be delayed and delayed and delayed. My personal view on this, and I have said it at committee, is that there is a bias in this council against boxing."

Alliance councillor Michael Long told the council there were "a lot of different priorities" for council savings.

UUP councillor Jim Rogers said: "This council has become a bottomless pit. What you hear is, get on to Belfast City Council, they will bail you out. And that's wrong."

Council voted 30 members to 23 to defer the final decision to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on March 20.

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