A member of the Irish Athletic Boxing Association’s divided Board of Directors has predicted that a dispute between the organisation’s two warring factions will end up in court.
Gerry O’Mahony - president of the IABA’s Munster Council - believes the Irish boxing split will not be resolved without a legal decision as the IABA board has been divided over the question of who is the rightful chairman of the association, with the incumbent Joe Christle and rival claimant David O’Brien both making claims to the title.
It is one of a number of controversies, including a team selection debate, to have divided Irish boxing this week ahead of the European Championships in Ukraine next month.
Christle and IABA CEO Fergal Carruth insist that Christle is the rightful chairman, citing the fact that he is listed with the Companies Registration Office in the position, while he also has the support of Sport Ireland.
However, O’Brien received the backing of four IABA board members – including O’Mahony - at a meeting last March to ‘succeed’ Christle as chairman as the rival group claim Christle’s term has expired.
“I suppose the only way to sort it out would be before a judge,” said O’Mahony yesterday.
“I couldn’t see any other way, myself because who else could decide it?” Both sides have cited different interpretations of the IABA’s rules and articles of memorandum, while the convoluted issue is further complicated by each side questioning the eligibility of certain IABA board of directors to sit on the board.
“It’s a serious matter and it definitely needs to be changed – the articles of memorandum have to be changed… it’s very vague,” said O’Mahony. “Who can sort it? I imagine it has to be a judge, I would think.” Speaking earlier this week, IABA CEO Carruth said: “There is no legal standing whatsoever for David O’Brien’s assumption that he may be the chairman of the IABA - none.
“When he [O’Brien] did question it in his solitary letter to the chairman, what was put back [was] legal advice that had been given to the organisation in regard to the tenure of the chairman.
“That letter that has gone to Mr O’Brien has not been challenged in any way, shape or form,” claimed Carruth.
A June 30 deadline has been by junior sports minister Patrick O’Donovan for the IABA to introduce structural changes or else Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy has stated that the association’s state funding could be withheld.
Any potential legal dispute would be likely to go on past that deadline.
“I think the Sports Council [Sport Ireland] and the likes of John Treacy would like to see things stable, but it’s not stable… so you can understand his anger,” said O’Mahony before reiterating his support for O’Brien’s claims to be IABA chairman.
“If I believe that Joe Christle’s time is up, then yes I support David O’Brien… but there shouldn’t be two factions, definitely not,” added O’Mahony, who is due to be Team Manager for the Irish team at the European Championships.
The decision of the IABA Central Council to ratify O’Mahony as Team Manager was the ahead of High Performance Director Bernard Dunne was another contentious issue this week, although Dunne seems likely to travel to Ukraine with a different title.
“I was selected because I have over 20 years experience as a manager, going away with teams… I’m an AIBA [qualified] official so I assume that’s why I was picked,” said O’Mahony.
Meanwhile, former European amateur champion Ray Moylette claimed he is relieved that he was not caught up in the latest IABA team selection debate.
The Mayo native missed out on a mooted box-off showdown against Dean Walsh ahead of last year’s Olympic qualifiers, while super-heavyweights Dean Gardiner and Martin Keenan this week fought in a box-off following a drawn-out selection saga.
“Thank God I’m not involved in it anymore,” said Moylette, who is preparing for his home debut as a professional in Dublin next month after going 4-0 since turning pro last March.
“I’ve a lot of regrets in my life and one of them is that I didn’t turn pro a long time ago.
“I’m re-energised, I’ve found my spark again. I love what I’m doing and I’m chasing a new dream,” added Moylette, who will feature on a Red Corner Promotions fight card at the National Stadium on June 24.
The bill will be co-headlined by Steve Collins Jr and Paddy McDonagh clashing for the vacant Irish light-heavyweight title, while Luke Keeler and Darren Cruise will meet for the vacant Irish middleweight belt.
“I’m really looking forward to this fight… I asked to step up again, so I’m leaving no stone unturned,” said the undefeated Collins Jr (10-0-1). “I only started boxing a few years ago so to get an Irish title in such a short space of time is huge,” added the son of the two-weight world champion.
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