A number of weeks ago, we talked about the success of Irish Golfers. Today, our sport chat turns to something else that Ireland has been incredibly successful in: boxing. In years gone past we’ve had international boxing stars such as Wayne McCullough and Barry McGuigan. Now, we have many up and coming boxers and stars such as Belfast’s Carl Frampton who has been pulling huge crowds to the Odyssey Arena for his fights (meaning that boxing is even helping our economy!). Frampton is managed by Barry McGuigan and is many ways is emulating his career both in terms of titles and his attitude to using the sport as a platform for uniting communities.
In the recent Commonwealth Games, Team Northern Ireland cleaned up in the boxing category. Out of the eleven matches featuring NI boxers, 9 medals were brought home. The team was captained by Belfast man Paddy Barnes who himself brought home a gold medal in the Men’s Fly category. The team featured a mix of well known boxers and those who have been gaining momentum over the past year. 22 year old Michael Conlon managed to win a bronze at the 2012 Olympics and brought home gold from the 2014 Commonwealth Games, despite only training for two weeks due to an injury. This definitely makes him one to watch over the coming years. At 22, he has many years of big fights ahead of him.
The past number of years has seen a huge rise in the popularity of boxing amongst women. Problems with the licensing of fights in Britain caused problems in the past but after it was brought back at the 2012 Olympics, it’s more popular than ever. Michaela Walsh fought a hard match at the Commonwealth Games against Olympic Champion Nicola Adams. 21 year old Walsh managed to walk away with a silver medal, no mean feat considering Adam’s track record. Another strong female, Alanna Audley-Murphy also took part in the Commonwealth Games. Alanna currently holds the Ulster Lightweight title and fought Dublin Olympian Katie Taylor early on in her boxing career.
It seems like boxing is going from strength to strength in Ireland with Carl Frampton set to fight for the IBF Super Bantamweight title in September against Spainish Kiko Martínez. In their 2013 fight, Martínez lost his European title to Frampton meaning that the upcoming match is one not to be missed.
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