The first attempt to put boxing on its feet in Ballina was made by a Richard Forde of Ardnaree, elder brother of Pappy the postman. Richard, better known to his friends as "Bug", was a sturdy, stocky fellow who did quite a stint of boxing in the British Army, and, according to his comrades-in-arms, was a very useful performer. On his return to civic life and his native Ardnaree, he penned a letter to the press to the effect that there should be a gym and boxing club in the town and he was willing to train and instruct the boxers. Furthermore, he would box anyone his weight in Ireland, at any time, in any tournament. Unfortunately, nothing came from his offer, much to his disappointment. Peace to his ashes.
The first boxing tournament on record for Ballina took place in St. Muredach's College Ground in 1923 and this was run in conjunction with Moyalla Bazaar. It was more or less a number of exhibitions. The principal performer was Jim Coffey of Castlerea, an ex U.S.A professional, who, in his best days, went six rounds with the great Jack Johnson. The only local performer we had of note was Charlie McLoughlin, a Derry plumber. Poor Charlie, who was in his 40's, bit the dust to the younger Mick O'Grady, Westport. The above tournament did not makeany impression on the youth, nor did it encourage anyone to start a boxing club.
Boxing programme above: P. J. Melia (bout 4) and Joe Lavelle (bout 8) of Ballina Boxing Club boxed in Chicago in 1983 as members of an Irish Boxing Team. Gerry Heneghan (bout 2) of Castlebar Boxing Club (currently coach with Aglish Boxing Club) was also on the team: both he and Joe won their bouts. The programme featured American boxers from Davis Square Boxing Club, C.Y.O and Silva Boxing Club, Harrison Park.