Boxing has frequently been at the top of the tree for international success. But last year’s Olympics commenced with allegations of doping after earlier suggestions of ill-discipline in the squad.
The shock defeat of Paddy Barnes opened further fault lines between the Irish Amateur Boxing Association and Sport Ireland over the departure of head coach Billy Walsh. While the battle of words raged bantamweight Michael Conlan was another victim of hugely controversial refereeing.
Enter, in April, former world champion Bernard Dunne as high performance director to ensure the IABA’s Tokyo 2020 planning and Sport Ireland’s Rio Review are implemented.
Yet when the minister, Patrick O’Donovan, attempted a progress review he had to terminate the meeting. Two men claim to be chairman of the IABA; there is discord over team management of the forthcoming European Championships; the IABA president could not attend the discussion and IABA officials appear reluctant to pass responsibilities to their new, publicly funded, director. It was Mike Tyson who said “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face”. The plan is for Ireland’s boxers to get better support in Tokyo than they did in Brazil. This is an unedifying opening round.