The Ireland Students team selected by the Irish Amateur Third-level Boxing Association (IATBA) celebrated medal success at the 6th Haringey International Box Cup held in London’s famous Alexandra Palace from June 20-23. The 10-strong IATBA team secured 1 gold and 4 silver medals at Europe’s largest open senior boxing tournament.
293 boxers weighed-in for this festival of boxing on the first day and the draw saw 3 IATBA team members in action on Thursday night. First to step in the ring for IATBA was IT Sligo student Keith Gallagher, Senior IATBA Champion at 64 Kg, against Ryan Frost of Harwich in the Senior 67 Kg C class. Keith scored well with straight right crosses throughout the bout but Frost’s higher work rate and fitness saw him take the contest on unanimous decision.
Next up was Waterford IT’s Craig McCarthy, facing the much fancied Karol Ozimkowski from Broad Street BC, in the Senior 71 Kg C Class. McCarthy pressed his opponent from the first bell and had the better of the exchanges in the first round, throwing flurries of lightning quick combinations, and showing good defence when Ozimkowski came forward. During the first break IATBA Coach and fellow Waterford IT student Rohan Date just asked for more of the same. McCarthy duly obliged, catching his opponent with a huge lead left hook and scoring a knock-out victory, RSC in the second round.
Last into the ring for Team IATBA on day 1 was Dublin IT’s Martin Wall, in a Senior 67 Kg Class C bout, against Ben White of Hastings Westhill. Wall, a former Irish U21 Champion, never looked in trouble and impressed as he secured a majority 4-1 decision to take the win and a place in the semi-finals.
The competition resumed on Saturday with the semi-finals and 8 IATBA boxers were in action. U.C.C’s Lily de la Cour was first to glove off with a C Class bout against Lise Sandebjer from BK Örnen in Sweden. Lily had just 2 competitive boxing bouts to her credit, both wins en route to winning this year’s IATBA 52 Kg senior title, but was competing at the highest class here due to her extensive kickboxing experience, a sport in which she has won European and World titles. The greater experience of the Swede showed as Lily was always on the back foot as she went down to a loss by unanimous decision.
Following Lily into the heat of competition was her friend and club mate from West Cork Kickboxing club Deirdre Begley (UCC). Deirdre also had only 2 competitive boxing bouts, again boxed during her winning turn in the IATBA Championship at 60 Kg. Her opponent was Swedish international and the winner of best female boxer from last year’s Haringey Cup, Linnea Strandell. Deirdre was under huge pressure from Strandell from the off and had to defend attack after attack. But she showed great heart to take the bout to the decision before losing 5-0 on the judges’ cards.
IT Tralee’s Amanda Coughlan entered the fray next in the Female B 67 Kg class, where her opponent was also a student boxer, Gardner Moore from Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University. Moore’s longer reach caused problems for Amanda right from the start and she could never stamp her authority on the contest despite her best efforts. Moore took the win by decision on all 5 scorecards.
In IATBA’s fourth bout of the day, Lee Boyd (LyIT) met the highly fancied Tion Gibbs from Hall Green BC in the Youth B 60 Kg semi-final. Lee had a great season up to this point winning the IATBA Senior 60 Kg title and his contest in the IATBA v Defence Forces match. However, Gibbs was a step up in class for Lee and his counter punching style frustrated him throughout the match. Boyd showed real determination and courage but could never pin down his wily opponent and went down by unanimous decision.
After four straight defeats the IATBA team needed a big performance to lift the spirits, and it fell to NUI Galway’ student Ryan Dervan to provide it. Despite being out of competitive boxing action for more than a year due to injury, Dervan started with great intensity against his opponent Harvey Blair from Gosport BC. He scored with some great shots from early in the contest and his use of angles and range of punching was too much for Blair in the early rounds. The Loughrea club man hit Blair with a wicked left hook to the body which forced him to take a count as he took a knee in centre ring. In the later rounds Ryan got more tired and allowed his opponent back into the contest to some extent but the result was never in doubt and Dervan took the contest by unanimous decision. This was just what the IATBA team needed and the result gave the remaining boxers a big lift in confidence.
Martin Wall’s semi-final opponent was the unbeaten Jordan Grannum of Finchley BC. The first round was difficult for Martin with Grannum throwing big shots and getting a lot of support from the vociferous home crowd. At the end of the round Coach Daniel Sweeney conceded to Martin that he was down and needed to lift his game and gave him instructions on how to change the contest. Wall followed the plan to the word and fought his way back into the contest with great heart and determination. In the final round both boxers were running on fumes and the bout was there for the taking. Martin showed the greater fitness and was just on top at the final bell. The atmosphere was electric as all gathered around “Ring A” waited for the decision. Victory went to Martin Wall on a split 3-2 decision after a tremendous contest. The Haringey Cup Facebook page later commented “All good things must come to an end. IATBA’s Martin Wall puts a halt to the 26-0 unbeaten run of Finchley’s Jordan Grannum.”
At the same time Craig McCarthy was in semi-final action against Thomas Barry of the Army club, such is the hectic schedule of the Haringey Cup. McCarthy continued his terrific form from his first bout, giving Barry two standing counts en route to a 5-0 decision and secured IATBAs fourth guaranteed silver medal, with Inchicore College of Further Education student Diego Capocci already in a straight final in the Youth B 67 Kg class.
The last semi-final of a busy day saw Eamon Tighe (NUI Galway) meet Paul Brown of Margate BC in the 81 Kg Senior C Class. This was an extraordinary bout with Tighe intent to pressure his opponent from the off, throwing huge shots with both hands, and scoring with almost every one with audible gasps from the crowd as each punch landed. Brown was a strong boxer but the accuracy and power of Tighe’s punches was too much and the referee called a halt to the contest in round 2 after Brown received his second standing count, giving IATBA our fifth Haringey Box Cup finalist.
The first IATBA boxer in Haringey finals action was Martin Wall. His opponent was an old rival, former Irish Intermediate Champion Niall Murray of Gorey BC, representing the Wexford team. This was their third meeting with the record standing at one victory each. Wall started sluggishly and Murray scored early with lead left hooks and his counter punching style was giving Martin lots of problems. In the later rounds Martin clawed his way back into the bout but Murray was stronger, the semi-final struggle with Grannum appearing to have left Wall tired. The contest went to judges’ score cards with Niall Murray winning a unanimous 5-0 decision. Though disappointed with the result, Martin can be very proud of his silver medal from a very strong category indeed.
Craig McCarthy was next up just 2 bouts later, looking to take gold from Ashkan Ghahramani of the Stockholm City team. In the previous round Ghahramani had beaten Conor Tighe of IT Sligo. The Swede was a clever boxer and difficult for McCarthy to pin down, but he was scoring with his straight left crosses when he was in range. Ghahramani was scoring frequently with his jab and looked to be in front before the final round. Craig gave everything in the last round, but as was the case with Martin Wall tiredness seemed to be a factor and he went down to a 4-1 majority decision. Ghahramani went on to be named Senior Boxer of the Tournament, the organizers admitting it would have been Craig McCarthy if he’d won. Overall a great week’s work from Craig and it should give him lots of confidence for next season in the Irish Elite Championships.
The third IATBA finalist of the day was Diego Capocci. The Neilstown boxer was boxing Jake Birch of Birmingham’s Studio ABC for the gold medal. Diego had impressed enough as a losing quarter-finalist, against eventual IATBA 69Kg Senior Champion Michael Bustard (TCD), to be picked for the Irish Third-level squad for this tournament. Capocci started really well and his speed of movement and punches was too much for Birch early on, as he scored freely from all angles and moved out of range before Birch could respond. The next 3 rounds of the bout saw more of the same as Capocci showed his dominance in a tremendous performance. The decision was inevitable at the end, a unanimous 5-0 victory for Diego Capocci and the Irish Amateur Third-level Boxing Association had its first Haringey Box Cup Champion. It was just reward for Diego who had really committed to preparing for the event and had trained up to 3 times a day in advance of the tournament.
There was scarcely time to draw breath, let alone celebrate, as attention turned from “Ring B” to “Ring C” where Eamon Tighe was competing in his final against Dean Laing of Birtley BC. Tighe carried on where he left off in his semi-final always on the front foot and pressurizing his opponent. However, Laing was a different proposition and had far superior defensive abilities. Both boxers traded scores over the first 2 rounds and there was little between them in a very close contest. As the last round progressed Tighe seemed to be gaining the upper hand with his work rate and sheer volume of punches thrown. At the final bell Eamon was clearly frustrated with the performance and felt it could have been more clear cut. There was major disappointment for the IATBA team when the result was announced, a 3-2 split decision for Dean Laing. The judges who went for Laing had him ahead of Tighe by no more than just 3 points. A bitter result for Eamon but he could be proud of his performances in the tournament.
The last IATBA boxer in action was Ryan Dervan (NUI Galway). In the other corner was the much fancied Daniel Wooledge of St. Marys BC, one of the top youth boxers in England and a member of Great Britain’s “Podium Potential” funded boxers, and who had stopped his semi-final opponent the previous day. Dervan put in a terrific performance matching Wooledge blow for blow over the 4 rounds in a great contest. However, Wooledge always seemed to find a way to score the cleaner shots, and he emerged victorious and took the Haringey Youth B 75 Kg gold medal. Ryan Dervan’s performances over the week show that there is much more success to come for him over the next few years.
This was a very successful first international tournament for the IATBA, and a solid foundation for the continued development of boxing at third-level in Ireland. The whole squad thoroughly enjoyed the experience of representing their institutions and their country at this prestigious tournament.
51 kg C: Lily de la Cour (University College Cork/ U.C.C, Cork)
60 kg C: Deirdre Begley (University College Cork/ U.C.C, Cork)
67 Kg B: Amanda Coughlan (IT tralee/ Paulstown, Kilkenny)
60 kg Youth B: Lee Boyd (Letterkenny IT/ Convoy, Donegal)
67 kg Youth B: Diego Capocci (Inchicore CFE/ Neilstown, Dublin)
67 kg Senior C: Martin Wall (Dublin IT/ Crumlin, Dublin)
67 kg Senior C: Keith Gallagher (IT Sligo/ Ardagh-Crossmolina, Mayo)
71 kg Senior C: Craig McCarthy (Waterford IT/ St. Pauls, Waterford)
75 kg Youth B: Ryan Dervan (NUI, Galway/ Loughrea, Galway)
81kg Senior C: Eamon Tighe (NUI, Galway/ Ballinacarrow, Sligo)
Team Manager: Paul Geoghegan
Coaches: Daniel Sweeney, Rohan Date, Liam Dervan