Kellie Harrington is always refreshingly honest when she is called upon to meet with media either as part of her boxing or in an ambassador role.

Yesterday she and Ellen Keane were unveiled as the faces and voices of a new three-year deal to promote sport across the Dublin City Council area and while she was eloquent and passionate about what that means to her, she was also pulling no punches when it came to discussing the current problems at the Irish Amateur Boxing Association.

“It’s a shitshow at the moment,” she told us. “and it has been like that for a number of years.”

Bernard Dunne resigned as the High-Performance director earlier this month but had been on extended leave since just after Tokyo last year following an unsigned analysis from a number of board members that was critical of his methods.

As a result of the schism between let’s say the traditional and the progressive wings within the sport, its high-performance funding from Sport Ireland has currently been put on hold and while Fergal Carruth and others are hoping to get a series of reforms over the line at this summer’s Annual General Meeting in order to get the money flowing again, there is no certainty it will be done.

When the FAI was in a similar position last year it had more time, less opposition and more will to get its house in order. Boxing is the opposite for the first two and a greater sense that it is fine running its own affairs.

“It needs to be sorted out because the only ones who are missing out are the boxers, the athletes,” said Harrington

“Secretly, in my head, I’m hoping that it’s gonna get sorted out and Bernard will take his job back. I think that’s probably not gonna happen, but that’s what I would love to happen.”

“I have spoken to Bernard and I’ve said to him, ‘Look, I would absolutely love you to be back and to be looking after us — it’s only a short time away, even get us through Paris.'”

“But I’ve also said to him, listen, your health is your wealth, and this is just a part of your life and you’ve got to look after yourself. And by looking after yourself, you can look after your family, you know. And you’ve got to make the right decision.”

In the past week Irish Boxing has celebrated three new world champions, more than doubling the number we have ever had. As our most successful Olympic sport we should be looking forward to their joining Kellie Harrington as live prospects for going all the way at the next Olympic Games in Paris.

But this time two years all the qualifications for the Games will be done and with no HP Director in place for one-third of the prep time to date, there is a real danger that all of the great coaching and all of the world-class boxers will be fighting with one arm tied behind their backs.

Tomorrow: Ellen Keane on Covid, Dancing and sleep…



Sport for Business Partners