Carrick boxers have been commended after developing a ‘lifelong link’ due to their cross-community work with a Belfast-based club.
Castle Boxing Club, which is part funded by the local Policing and Community Safety Partnership, has been training with the Holy Family Boxing Club at Carrick Amphitheatre.
The development arose following the publication of a report in December by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association on the existence of sectarianism within the sport, which aimed to eliminate a number of identified “chill factors”.
Speaking to the Times on Friday, Castle Boxing Club coach John Neil said: “Castle Boxing Club was first set up a year ago to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area. Until March, we were affiliated with the IABA but after that we went out on our own.
“We were aware of the issue of sectarianism in boxing that had been highlighted by the IABA and we wanted to tackle that; for us, it’s all about the sport, not about religion. The link with Holy Family Boxing Club came about through my son Matt, who boxes there.
“It’s a lifelong link we’ve set up and it’s a privilege to be working the Holy Family Golden Gloves club and the world famous coach Gerry Storey, who kept the club open even at the height of the Troubles.
“The boxers from Holy Family come to Carrick and train with us and we go to Belfast to train with them.
“The club have produced no less than seven Olympians, including Barry McGuigan, and I was delighted to be bale to host them within the facilities of Carrickfergus Amphitheatre.
“I look forward to continuing our cross community work with the Holy Family boxing club in 2014. We are actively preparing for our move to new facilities in the borough, which will allow us to grow and reach our potential as a local club.”
Carrickfergus PCSP chair Councillor Andrew Wilson added: “I believe that Castle Boxing Club and Holy Family Boxing Club are leading the way in relation to combatting sectarianism within the sport in Northern Ireland; they regularly train together and they use council facilities on a weekly basis.”
Originally based at Sunnylands Community Centre, the club has grown to seventy members aged from seven years and up.
It is currently in the middle of moving to its new premises at Nelson Street, when it will be open each week night from 6-9pm. New members are welcome.