The gloves are on: St Patrick’s is back in the boxing ring

One of Kilkenny’s proudest historic institutions is about to be reinstated.

One of Kilkenny’s proudest historic institutions is about to be reinstated.

St Patrick’s Boxing Club takes a giant step back into the ring this week, with the once dormant club embarking on a new lease of life.

It is a historic moment for Kilkenny, and the city in particular, as the club – originally founded after World War II – proves itself a comeback kid. Established in 1946, the club was a major force in Irish boxing for decades, bringing home successive titles and producing a lineup of highly-regarded boxers.

Names such as Bateman, Coyne, Gaule, Doherty, O’ Shaughnessy, Larkin and Leahy emerged as credible contenders on the scene. Fred Tiedt had Olympic success in 1956, taking silver in Melbourne – although many felt he deserved gold.

Club members won Irish titles in 1951 and in 1953. St Patrick’s was one of the first clubs in the country to bring international selections to the city – such as teams from Scotland – a relatively unheard of practice at the time.

The association with the James Stephens club has also always been a strong one. The club ran strongly up until the early 1990s, when a fire in the old hall all but destroyed it entirely. Badly damaged, the parish did not have the funds to rebuild its headquarters, and the club went into decline.

For years it languished on the point of extinction, but now – two decades on – it’s back with a vengeance.

The insurance has been sorted, the permit is there, IABA affiliation has been secured – and most importantly, it has a brand new base.

The club will operate from the Watershed at Scanlon Park – a facility that has produced and nurtured some of the finest athletes ever to emerge from the county.

It’s not all just about boxing though, there is a health and fitness, as well as a social aspect to the club. Coach Chris O’ Shaughnessy also says that no one will be thrown in over their head – patience and finding a level is key.

Children of all ages as well as adults are invited to come and get involved in the club. To facilitate this, there will be an open day this Saturday, August 11 in the Watershed. Coaches Conor Phelan, Tommy Walton, and Terry Christle will be on hand.

Everyone is welcome to come along, and for any parents or children who have questions, it is an ideal opportunity to meet the coaches and staff and observe the set up and equipment the club has.

Meanwhile, the official first day will be the following Saturday, August 18 after the Olympic Finals. Training will generally take place on Monday and Thursday evenings (between 7pm-8pm for 10 to 15-year-olds, and 8pm-9pm for 16-year-olds to adults) and on Saturdays (11am-12pm for the younger group, and 12pm-1pm for the adults).

St Patrick’s Boxing Club has also benefited under Kilkenny County Council’s Community and Cultural Facilities Capital Grant scheme. Cllr Martin Brett has been named a patron of the club, and he says he is delighted be involved with the rejuventated organisation.

“This is a vibrant opportunity for more young people to get involved socially and be active,” he said.

“Years ago, boxing was a very big thing in the St Patrick’s Parish and it is great to see it being revived. They have secured a fantastic venue at the Watershed – who would have thought when we started off with Scanlon Park, we would have athletes from here taking part in the Olympics right now. This will be an extension of a wonderful facility.”

Parish council leader Father Dan Carroll, who was instrumental in the whole thing coming together, has been appointed president of the club. The club also thanked Watershed CEO Dermot Gaynor as well as the staff for all their help in getting the club to where it is.

For further information or any enquiries, contact 086-6012662.