Cuba's Olympic boxers Belfast-bound

Published Wednesday, 04 April 2012
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The Cuban boxing team will set up their Olympic training camp in Northern Ireland, the Sports Minister has confirmed.

Cuba's Olympic boxers Belfast-bound
Holy Trinity Boxing Club is preparing to host the Cuban boxers. (© UTV)

UTV reported in January that the decision was likely and the official announcement was made at Holy Trinity Boxing Club in west Belfast on Wednesday.

"This is a huge coup for the north," Carál Ní Chuilín said.

"Cuba's boxers have dominated the sport at an amateur level and this is the most successful nation in Olympic boxing - they have won 40 gold medals since 1972 and we hope they will add to that total in 2012."

What a proud moment for Belfast boxers, boxing clubs and boxing fans that they’ve chosen our wee country as their base.

Wayne McCullough

The Sports Minister said there was a real sense of excitement about hosting the Cuban boxers, but added that the sport at local grassroots level would also benefit enormously.

"We have our own proud tradition of boxing at the very highest levels. This part of the world has nurtured some of the best fighters ever to step into the ring - like Cuba, we have punched well above our weight," she said.

"As well as giving Cuban athletes a springboard to success, it is my hope that hosting Cuba will inspire local boxers to achieve their best."

Chair of Sport NI Dominic Walsh also welcomed the news, which he said was the product of a lot of hard work by a number of agencies.

"As well as DCAL and Sport NI, a number of other boxing clubs across the city have joined together with Belfast City Council, Queen's and UUJ to showcase local facilities and attract the world's top athletes," he said.

Boxer Wayne McCullough - who had a Cuban trainer throughout his own Olympic journey - travelled to Belfast for the announcement and said it was a proud moment for his home city and the rest of Northern Ireland.

"With the unrivalled boxing tradition we have in Northern Ireland, plus outstanding facilities and coaches, it's no surprise to me that they would be so eager to base themselves in Belfast," he said.

Eight other countries have already confirmed they'll be setting up training camps in Northern Ireland.

The Chinese gymnastics teams will train at the Salto National Gymnastics Centre in Lisburn, the Irish and Jordainian Paralympic teams at Antrim Forum and the Australian boxers in the Greater Belfast area.

Athletics teams from Qatar, Sudan, Egypt and Kuwait will also travel to Northern Ireland.

© UTV News
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