Boxing has “no connection to criminality”, a Lunchtime Live listener has said.
In the run-up to Katie Taylor’s homecoming fight against Chantelle Cameron, Lunchtime Live asked listeners if incidents like the Regency Hotel shooting have attached a negative image around the sport.
Speaking to the show, Liam from St Brigid’s Boxing Club in Edenderry, Offaly said he will not “even entertain” the connection between organised crime and boxing.
“You’re talking kind of two different levels – professional boxing and amateur boxing,” he said.
“I have over 60 boxers in Edenderry this week from 11 different countries.
“It goes from a girl who left school at 16, to a schoolteacher, to a girl who is Grade 8 on the piano – it's all walks of life.”
Boxing is “the art of defence,” according to Liam.
“I never tell the kid getting into the corner, ‘Your aim here is to take the head off that guy on the far side of the ring.’ You teach them discipline,” he said.
“If they don't have discipline, they’re going nowhere, and it helps them in life outside the ring.
“The amount of kids that we reach that can’t afford the €150 to join the local GAA club.
“We look after them, we take them in. I've got 70 members in my club from all walks of life, I’d say 30 of them have memberships.
“Maybe because it's probably a working-class thing and it's easier to have a go, but I have kids in my club and they’re not working class.”
A violent sport?
Iseult from Dublin boxing has been unfairly maligned with criminality, perhaps due to the violence of the sport.
“Boxing has always had a sort of a dark underbelly to an extent if we go back as far as the Don King days and the connections with the mafia in the US,” she said.
“That's unfortunate because it's certainly not reflective of the vast majority of people both involved in the sport in terms of participation and those who go to support the sport.
Iseult said boxing does not help itself by not “distancing itself from these factions.”
“A lot of Irish boxers are almost dismissed to an extent because of the association or the perception that boxing is somehow involved in the criminal side,” she said.
“There's very little boxing can but continue to promote the good side of the sport, to show what it does in terms of the good in communities and in terms of the athletes’ success stories.
“Because ultimately, with that connection, we can't just erase history.”
Iseult drew the connection between rugby and boxing, arguing that both contained violent elements.
“Boxing is as much about defence and avoiding being hit as it is about hitting someone, she said.
“I wonder what the same people have the same view about rugby.
“We're not given the same TV coverage and airtime as other sports are, and it’s disappointing.”
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