Boost for Banbridge boxing

Boxing in Banbridge has been given a tremendous boost with the completion of a purpose built, state of the art gym based in Havelock Park.

This project which has been funded by Sport Northern Ireland has realised the dreams of many boxing enthusiasts over the years.

The official opening of the new club facilities will take place on Wednesday June 4 at 7pm. Banbridge ABC are delighted to welcome the Minister for Culture Arts and Leisure, Caral Ni Chuilin and many local sports and boxing personalities. Banbridge Olympian, Eamon McCusker will cut the ribbon to herald a new dawn in amateur boxing in Banbridge. The evening will also feature boxing exhibitions and supper.

Preparations for the new club began in 2010 with the submission of an application to Sport Northern Ireland for funding. That possibility became more of a reality in December 2012 when the Club received confirmation from SportNI that the project had been accepted on the SportNI Community Capital Grant List.

The project was built by MSM Contracts Ltd and the Design team of McGurks Architects was led by Eoighin Farren. The completed gym opened its doors in record time on Saturday February 7 to host the Mid Ulster Boys and Youth Championships.

Fifty years ago these Championships were first fought in the Big Hall on Ballymoney Hill in Banbridge and competitors of that event in 1964 watched a young boxer from Banbridge, Dominic Doyle start proceedings and go on to take a Mid Ulster and Ulster Title.

As part of the plans to open the new facility, club secretary Anne Murphy has been compiling a book which chronicles boxing in the Banbridge District across generations.

This project, A Century of Boxing in Banbridge, was funded by the All Our Stories programme in the Heritage Lottery Fund. Many local people past and present have contributed to this unprecedented record of boxing.

The professional careers of ‘Cool Hand’ Jason McKay and Bernard McComiskey are well documented and young enthusiasts have also put pen to paper. Photographs and memorabilia record memorable events, one of which is a programme from 1956 and the Ireland versus Germany International which was held in the Old Iveagh Cinema.

Freddie Gilroy was boxing on this bill and thanks to the townspeople of Banbridge his career got a massive kickstart that evening. The book will be available at the opening event.

The new gym has five unique visual images of famous boxers. This art work was designed by Off The Wall Creations and is the result of a worldwide boxing survey to find the best boxers of all time.