10 year 'hate campaign' against city club

Published Tuesday, 21 August 2012
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The body responsible for governing amateur boxing is to investigate claims by a boxing club, based at Belfast's Sandy Row, that its members have faced sectarian intimidation over the past decade.

The inner city club has compiled a 57-page document detailing allegations of a hate campaign.

The report also highlights what they say is a lack of action taken by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA).

The Sandy Row club claims that over a ten-year period, it has been subjected to sectarian abuse by Nationalist boxing supporters.

The latest incident documented in the dossier refers to a boxing tournament in north Belfast in 2010 during which the club claims that a bottle was thrown and there was "sectarian chanting."

The PSNI confirmed that they investigated the incident as a "hate crime".

Ian McSorley, secretary with the city club, told UTV that the young boxers have, over the years, experienced verbal and physical attacks, and been subjected to harassment which has had "a terrible affect" on all of them.

"Our young people are at a formative age of their lives and this is how they were treated," he said, before adding that the lads have been stoned, kicked, and spat on.

"It's all been written down."

He said many boxers had left the sport because of their treatment.

Gary Meehan, aged 23, is a member of the Sandy Row Club - but he uses the facilities to keep fit and no longer competes.

He told UTV that he has completely pulled out of competitions because of intimidation.

You felt like you'd lost the fight before you went into the ring.

Gary Meehan

"My worst experience was in St Kevin's Hall where I got booed," he said, before adding that while competing at another venue plastic bottles were thrown into the ring.

"I felt terrible. I wouldn't bring anyone into the sport - or wish it on anybody."

In a statement, the IABA chief executive Don Stewart said they were "disappointed" with the allegations made against them.

"The ethos of the IABA is in no way sectarian or political nor does it discriminate against any religious beliefs, political ideologies, or race.

"The objectives of the IABA are solely the development and promotion of amateur boxing on the whole of the island.

"We are conducting a thorough investigation into them, when the investigations are complete we are open to holding discussions with the Sandy Row Boxing Club."

A spokesman for the Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said she was "aware of the complaints and has tasked officials to take the matter forward as part of the development of a boxing strategy for the north of Ireland."

"This includes promoting inclusivity and addressing any issues of inequality," he added.

The Sandy Row Boxing club says it hopes to hold talks with both the IABA and the Sports Minister before the end of the year.

© UTV News
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28 Comments
Alan Anderson in Belfast wrote (522 days ago):
Did anyone else notice that Sandy Row is not affiliated to the IABA? So lets get this right, Sandy Row boxing club wants a portion of IABA funds, without being affiliated to it? Strange logic. Would Rangers/Celtic be entitled to Premier League funds, no, because they arent affiliated to it. Would they be invited to Premier League event? No.
Conor in Belfast wrote (568 days ago):
They could've chosen someone better to show their boxing skills than what is clearly a novice, haha.
WTF in Ards wrote (602 days ago):
Henry, Henry, Henry. Whataboutery at it's finest....might as well continue your childish thread.....stop dragging us back 800 years etc. and so forth. Keep your head buried in the sand.
henry in north belfast wrote (603 days ago):
aaron aaron aaron, ryan didnt start the story so whos living in the 90s and hes spot on about windsor....ya know that ground neil lennon once played on......and if ya realy wanna move on then stop dragging us back to 1690 every year.
Danso in N,Belfast wrote (604 days ago):
Has nothing to do with the 3 million pound grant...dead on
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