Ireland at the 1960 Rome Olympics

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Bernard O’Neill – IABA Press Officer

Irish boxing travelled to Rome with optimism after claiming four medals at the 1956 Games and confidence was high ahead of competition at the Palazzo dello Sport venue.

Disappointingly there was no joy for Irish boxers in the Eternal City as none of the ten-strong squad, Ireland’s biggest ever Olympic boxing panel, medalled.

20 year old Bernie Meli, the youngest member of the Irish squad, beat Greek light welter Michail Dememtre in his opening bout, but then lost to Bohumil Nemecek of Czechoslovakia, who went on to win gold.

Omagh BC lightweight Danny O’Brien also opened his Games with a win, defeating Esteban Aguilar from the up-and-coming boxing nation of Cuba. However, he then was eliminated by eventual silver medallist, Sandro Lopopolo of Italy, in the next round.

The great Harry Perry, a multiple Irish champion, came unstuck. The Dubliner, appearing at back-to-back Olympics and a bronze medal winner at the 1959 European Championships in Switzerland, dropped a split decision to Korea’s Ki-Soo Kim in his opening bout.

Cork’s Paddy Kenny defeated Swiss bantam Emile Anner before bowing out on a tight split-decision to American Jerry Armstrong.

Dublin feather Ando Reddy overcame French fighter Andre Juncker in the opening round before falling to Abel Bekker of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)

Crumlin light middle Mick Reid defeated Brazilian Helio Crescencio before losing to Henryk Dampe of Poland, while another Crumlin boxer, Eamonn McKeon, beat Mohammed Ben Gandoubi of Tunisia in the middleweight division before defeat against South African Frederik van Rooyen.

Colin McCoy was beaten in the light heavyweight class by Finland’s Matti Aho, who was eliminated by Bulgaria’s Petar Stankov in the last-16. Stankov was subsequently beaten by Zbigniew Pietrzykowski in the last-eight, but the Pole fighter, who saw off the challenge of Italy’s Giulio Saraudi in the semis, had to settle for silver after ending up on the wrong side of a unanimous decision to a charismatic 18 year old Kentucky sensation called Cassius Clay, who of course would become ‘The Greatest’ Muhammad Ali.

Hosts Italy, with three gold, three silver and one bronze medal, were boxing’s table-toppers at the 1960 Games.

The Rome Olympiad was the first Olympics to be televised and would mark the last time that South Africa would compete at the Games because of its apartheid-enforcing regime. Thirty two years later South Africa was readmitted to the Games by the IOC.

There was a slight change to the scoring system for boxing at the 1960 Olympiad with five judges scoring bouts instead of three.

Flyweight: Adam McLean (Crown)
Lost to Karimu Young (Nigeria) 1-4

Bantamweight: Paddy Kenny (Cork News Boys & Coventry Irish)
Beat Emile Anner (Switzerland) 5-0
Lost to Jerry Armstrong (USA) 2-3

Featherweight: Ando Reddy (Sandymount)
Beat Andre Juncker (France) 3-2
Lost to Abel Bekker (Rhodesia) 0-5

Lightweight: Danny O’Brien (Omagh)
Beat Esteban Aguilar (Cuba) 5-0
Lost to to eventual silver medallist Sandro Lopopolo (Italy) 0-5

Light-welterweight: Bernie Meli (Immaculata)
Beat Michail Demetre (Greece) 5-0
Lost to eventual gold medallist Bohumil Nemecek (Czechoslovakia) 0-5

Welterweight: Harry Perry (British Rail)
Lost to Ki-soo Kim (Korea) 2-3

Light-middleweight: Mick Reid (Crumlin)
Beat Helio Crescencio (Brazil) 4-1
Lost to Henryk Dampe (Poland) 0-5

Middleweight: Eamonn McKeon (Crumlin)
Beat Mohammed Ben Gandoubi (Tunisia) 5-0
Lost to Frederik van Rooyen (South Africa) 0-5

Light-heavyweight: Colin McCoy (Kilcullen)
Lost to Matti Aho (Finland) 1-4

Heavyweight: Joe Casey (Arbour Hill)
Lost to Obrad Sretenovic (Yugoslavia) 0-5

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: [email protected]