Boxing probe finds 'sectarian issues'

Published Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Toggle font size

An investigation into allegations of sectarianism and racism in boxing in Ulster has identified a number of issues within the sport - which are also said to affect other sporting organisations.

An independent working group was set up by the sport's governing body, the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, in the wake of claims made last year by a boxing club based in Belfast's Sandy Row area.

The club had compiled a 57-page document outlining what it called a hate campaign by nationalist boxing supporters against its members over the course of the last decade.

On Tuesday, the group which investigated the allegations released its report and acknowledged that there were incidents of sectarianism and racism.

It recommended that the IABA should work to eliminate "a number of identified chill factors" and added that a process of intervention and a robust disciplinary process should be developed.

The Independent Working Group acknowledged that there were incidents of sectarianism and racism and therefore believes that the IABA should work to eliminate a number of identified chill factors.

Dr Duncan Morrow, chairman

"However, the Independent Working Group believes that the creation of a separate federation for boxers in Northern Ireland would deepen and accelerate sectarian divisions - potentially splitting boxing for generations to come on sectarian lines," chairman Dr Duncan Morrow, Director of Community Engagement at the University of Ulster, said.

"We have also recommended a strategic review of the IABA's current governance structures in Ulster, which will be important in driving the organisations future agenda, ensuring that key focus goes back on boxing."

The IABA contacted every club in Ulster to offer the opportunity to speak to the working group.

The investigation also raised the issue of national identity as one affecting boxing and other sports.

Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, individuals have the right to identify themselves as Irish, British or both as they see fit.

The situation can cause complications for athletes who have to choose a country to represent.

Sandy Row have lifted the lid on a serious problem ... It should act as a catalyst for change in boxing, and indeed other sports in Northern Ireland where people are denied the right to represent the United Kingdom on the international stage.

Jim Allister, TUV

"The Independent Working Group believes that the implications of the right to identity choice, as established in the Belfast Agreement, should be clarified to ensure that young athletes in all sports are not disenfranchised and can express themselves appropriately," Dr Morrow added.

"We recognise that the issue of national representation will require serious engagement between sporting bodies and politicians across the jurisdictional divides."

A number of recommendations have been made following the report's publication, including a plan to accommodate boxers who might represent Team GB at elite level.

It has also been suggested that the IABA modernises its branding to incorporate all the boxers it represents and that it develops a code of conduct around the flying of flags and emblems at bouts.

Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has welcomed the report and acknowledged the good work carried out within boxing.

"As well as providing health and emotional well-being benefits, it has broken down divisions and brought people together," she said.

"Its impact goes beyond individuals and into the wider community."

While issues of national identity are a matter for the individual athlete, it is important that such issues do not disenfranchise our stars of the future from progressing through their sport.

Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín

Ms Ní Chuilín added: "This report was dealing with a small minority of cases, based on factors which originate outside the sport, and usually prompted by those with no interest in boxing.

"It should not undermine the positivity within boxing, nor take away from the hundreds of people who have found it a positive force for good.

"However, as the sport continues to grow and develop, this report raises a number of key issues to be addressed. It provides the IABA with a path to take boxing into the future and enhance its reputation of bringing together communities from across the north of Ireland and beyond.

"It is clear that there is no room for sectarianism in sport and the IABA must take the necessary actions to address this issue."

TUV leader Jim Allister welcomed the report's findings, but added that he "fundamentally disagrees" with its view that a separate governing body for boxing in Northern Ireland is not needed.

"When Sandy Row bravely put their head above the parapet, they were met by cat calls claiming the problems they highlighted did not exist," he said.

"This report proves they do. Those who have dismissed the claims of SRABC within the boxing fraternity owe them an apology."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
shamrock in Belfast wrote (133 days ago):
@ doctor who. You most certainly don't. live on planet earth if you think the GAA would form a NI branch!!! The GAA is an all Ireland sport. Nationalists have no allegiance to the so called country of NI. Do not attempt to dilute our Irishness.
s magowan in belfast wrote (133 days ago):
I would suggest that an independent inquiry should be held into what is a serious example of sectarianism and racism against the SRBC.If the boxing authorities here refuse to accept that not all boxers in NI want to represent the ROI then the time is now right to set up an NI boxing association to push for the right of competitors to represent the GB&NI team at future Olympics.Perhaps Dr Morrow should look at the other sports which represent NI on the world sporting stage with participants from both communities.As for the GFA,large numbers of people voted against it and many people who did vote for it,now wish they hadn't.
Sam1690 in Ballysillan wrote (133 days ago):
The sports minister suggested that to receive funding must affiliate to this association, then changed her stance to any national association. Given that the Irish Boxing Association has failed to protect Unionists and Ethnic minorities from abuse, will she now support a Northern Ireland Boxing Association? Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement young boxers could then decide which National identity represented them. Since after all Sinn Fein is supposed to be the party of equality and signed up to the GFA.
Paddy in West Belfast ireland wrote (134 days ago):
Is doctor who for real? There is no way that will happen. We in the GAA are Irish and are proud Irishmen. I for one would not countenance representing any contrived entity. For me there is only one option and that would be to represent Ireland and Ireland only.
Doctor Who in Northern Ireland wrote (134 days ago):
I believe they should create a sovereignty for all sports in country of Northern Ireland, this will allow the country to create a sporting identity. They would create a philosophy which would help to create future sporting greats 'for our wee country'. In Rugby, you would be repersenting Northern Ireland not Ireland, In Athletics you will be repersenting Northern Ireland not GB & NI or Ireland and the same applies to Gaelic Football, the same will apply to rest of the sports as well. They would create a sports academy in which those select few will receive specialist coaching, they would combine specialist coaching with education. They would create a new multi-sport all seater stadium which would allow Football, Rugby, Gaelic, Athletic events to be staged here. They will also create a new national anthem which will cater everyone and design a new uniform which will give them a specific identity within the world of sport. The idea is to unite Protestants and Catholics of all generations so that we can create a product that everyone will be proud of which will hopefully lead to success.
Email address*:    
House Rules:  
Your Comment:  
[All comments are moderated and will not appear immediately. Your name, location and comment will be displayed on this page if your post passes moderation.]
Mon 31 March 2014
Fatal shooting in west Belfast
Sat 19 April 2014
Carrick disturbances
Fri 11 April 2014