Boxing champs of the future from north and south will deliver a knockout blow for sectarianism when they meet in the ring for an inaugural cross community boxing tournament.
The Punching for Peace Youth Boxing Tournament on June 4 features young fighters from five of Belfast’s top clubs going head to head against their counterparts in clubs from counties Louth, Cavan and Meath.
The event at the Spectrum Centre on the Shankill Road has been organised by Belfast Community Sports Development Network (BCSDN) in association with Belfast City Council and funded by the EU PEACE 111 Programme.
In preparation for the tournament young boxers from both sides of the divide met on Saturday (May 21) with their southern counterparts at the Holy Family Club for a joint training session followed by a cultural diversity workshop. A similar event has been organised at the ClannNaofa Boxing Academy Dundalk on May 28.
The Belfast clubs involved are Holy Family, Dockers, Midland, Cairnlodge and Saints. The bouts will be three rounds each involving 12-16 age groups. The clubs from south of the border taking part are ClannNaofa from Co Louth, Navan, Ashbourne, and Dunschaugalain from Co Meath and King’s Court from Co Cavan.
Event organiser Billy Boyd, BCSDN’s Sports Development Officer, said the purpose was to show young people from working class areas that they have much in common.
“Boxing has always been a sport that cuts across the religious divide and this event will help bring young people from different backgrounds together to train and socialise together.
“Many young people living in working class areas have never met anyone from a different religion so this is an ideal opportunity for them to enjoy their sport and sit down and engage with each other.”
Jim O’Neill from the ClannNaofa club said he was delighted to accept the invitation to bring young boys up to Belfast to compete in the tournament.
“Boxing in this small island is a unifying experience that brings out the best in people. We have produced many great boxing ambassadors from north and south over the years and will continue to do so,” he said.
Some of Northern Ireland’s top boxing names will hand out awards at the end of the tournament. They include former Commonwealth Champions, Darren Corbett and Neil Sinclair, Shankill legend Davy Larmour, up and coming young professional Carl Frampton and Olympic Bronze medallist Paddy Barnes.
The tournament, which is open to the public, begins at 2pm and the last bout will end around 6pm.