Councillors’ charity clash ‘will be like Ali vs Frazier’ bout

The boxing impresario Don King would have been suitably impressed with the hype generated at a Cork County Council meeting when standing orders were suspended to discuss the art of pugilism.

Councillors’ charity clash  ‘will be like Ali vs Frazier’ bout

Cllr Alan Coleman, who heads the Fianna Fáil group in County Hall, threw down the gauntlet to political rivals, inviting them to challenge his party colleague Kevin O’Keeffe in a charity boxing match.

The event is to be held in Mitchelstown on Mar 16.

But Coleman, who has agreed to act as O’Keeffe’s corner man, didn’t have long to wait.

Within seconds, rivals on the 48-member council roared with delight as a Labour councillor threw his hat into the ring.

Cllr Noel McCarthy jumped up, pulled out a pair of boxing gloves autographed by Katie Taylor, and declared he was up for a scrap.

McCarthy is president of Fermoy-based Avondhu Boxing Club, but readily admits he has not fought in the ring before. “I’ll start training with the club in the next couple of days. I’ll have to stay in close to Kevin (O’Keeffe) because he’s got a lot longer reach and that could do me damage. I suppose it will be a bit like one of those Ali versus Frazier fights,” McCarthy said.

O’Keeffe, son of former Fianna Fáil TD Ned O’Keeffe, said he accepted the challenge. “I’m sure having two politicians fight it out will raise more interest. It’s for a good cause after all and, on the night, I’ll be raising funds for the Mitchelstown branch of the Cope Foundation.”

Meanwhile, another politician indicated he was prepared to fight the winner. However, unlike the other councillors, Sinn Féin’s Kieran McCarthy knows his way around a ring, even though he’s a little rusty.

McCarthy, a member of Cobh Town Council, was Cork amateur middleweight boxing champion in 1981.

Cobh is organising a boxing tournament later this year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of hometown hero Jack Doyle, and McCarthy said the occasion would be used for another political showdown.

Doyle, known as the Gorgeous Gael, was an accomplished boxer and Hollywood actor who landed the starring role in two movies, McGlusky the Sea Rover (1935) and Navy Spy (1937).

“It’s 30 years since I’ve been in a ring and I’m five years older than either Kevin or Noel so I reckon that evens it out. Anyway it’s only for a bit of fun. I think we should organise a tournament especially for politicians in Cork,” McCarthy suggested.

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