13 November 2008 – By Cormac Campbell
Paddy Barnes difficulty securing funding is frustrating but nothing new.
What is baffling is the apparent lack of organisation at the IABA that would make it someones business to be out there approaching sponsors to soften the blow on boxers and their families. We are not talking about hundreds of thousands of pounds/euro here just enough to help them reach their potential.
No doubt the suits will tut-tut when they lose more of their best and brightest to the paid ranks. But the mindset of these boxers isnt greed – the reality is that being an Olympic standard boxer requires a full time commitment and why would anyone opt to live on the breadline when they can earn a living doing the same thing in a different guise? The sad thing is that the money is in the public and private sector if only the governing body would go out and get it. Im not talking about being professional boxers here, rather being employees of the IABA.
Boxers of Barnes stature have the ability to do a lot of good both for the sport and indeed society if they are given the chance. If this involves them going to schools, charity events or even working with young offenders then this would be money very well spent. But despite the successes in the ring, amateur boxing in Ireland is losing when it comes to selling itself.
There is no excuse for empty seats at the National Stadium for Senior Championships or internationals none. But who is going out there selling tickets? Approaching clubs? Why have the IABA not secured a TV deal that would ensure live coverage or even highlights of all senior international events? I have no doubt that if it was someones job to do these things they would pay for themselves five times over. The surplus could then be pumped back in to the sport. In short the IABA needs to employ a promoter pronto.
Another of the issues Paddy raised was that he rarely gets to fight in Belfast never if he is wearing the Irish jersey. I have always loved the National Stadium, but at some level it is the worst thing that ever happened Irish boxing. It ties far too many major events to the capital and thus reduces the opportunity for the general public to experience top class international amateur boxing first hand. Can anyone honestly tell me that regular Irish internationals in Belfast, Cork, Galway, Derry or Limerick wouldnt do business at the box office?
These are matters I want to hear feedback on, so email your opinions to me at [email protected]