This evening Northern Ireland end their thirty year absence from major international tournaments with a clash against Poland at the European Championships in France.
Ahead of the game in Nice, irish-boxing.com brings you a look at how fighters from the island have performed against Poles over the years.
Perhaps the most famous meeting in recent years was that of Belfast’s Paddy Barnes and Łukasz Maszczyk from Myszków in the quarter finals of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The 21 year old light flyweight showed maturity beyond his years to score an 11:5 win and claim a bronze medal.
The win was made sweeter as Barnes had lost widely to Maszczyk (25:9) a year previously in an international in Loughrea. Also that night another future Belfast star, Carl Frampton, controversially lost to Krystof Rogowski (16:17). Poznan puncher Rogowski is currently operating as a high-level journeyman and has lost to Ireland’s Willie Casey and James Tennyson.
Photo courtesy of Loughrea BC
In 1965 Jim McCourt staked his claim of being the best amateur lightweight in the World. The Belfast boxer had to settle for bronze after lost a disputed decision to Soviet Velikton Barannikov in the semi-finals of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The Rusian would comprehensively lose in the final to Polish legend Józef Grudzień. The champ came to Dublin for an international to take on McCourt and was edged out via split-decision in a barn-burner at the National Stadium.
Ireland’s most decorated boxer, Katie Taylor, went into the lion’s den in 2011. The Bray lightweight travelled to Katowice, Poland, for the EU Championships, and emerged with the gold medal after beating home fighter Karolina Graczyk (25:9) in the final.