|Vincent McMahon, Ballina Boxing Club Hon. Secretary|
I joined Ballina Boxing Club in the mid 80s to do weight-training and became Hon. Secretary shortly afterwards. Not coming from a boxing background, I reluctantly accepted the position, explaining that I did not know boxing, but was assured that the club needed a Secretary who would do the necessary in that regard and that the members and officials would look after the other aspects. I had been training for just a few months in the weights room in the gym, which was on the floor above the area for boxing training, and I found a warmth and a bonding that was very evident between the club officials and boxers. I would say the club was a home-from-home for most of the members at that time, (and still is) a place to go for a work-out and a place to meet people who accept each other in a non-judgemental way. For the coaches, it was a way of giving back what they had received from their own mentors in previous years. I wish the club every success in the years ahead and I know that boxing will be a passport to greater things for the youths and young ladies of the club as they strive to build their futures. For me, this passport is a game called Bridge, and it has taken me all over the world and introduced me to like-minded people. Of course boxers play Bridge too, and one of the foremost boxers/Bridge-players in Ballina was the late Anthony Kilcullen. Anthony was highly respected in Connaught boxing and equally at the Bridge table: anyone caught napping and it would be all over in the wink of an eye. Mr. Mick Durcan, one of the founders of Ballina Boxing Club, was also a keen Bridge player.
My own background was in primary school teaching and I can easily recognise the benefits of gym training, though boxing was not on the primary school curriculum. Many of the benefits of boxing are outlined here, During my time with the Ballina Boxing Club, I have seen some young boys with low self-esteem and lacking confidence, develop into fine men to be respected and feared in the boxing ring while behaving like proper gentlemen elswhere. Very few boxers win national titles, but I know the opportunity is there in Ballina should a suitable boxer join the club. Success has four vital elements: Ability, Drive, Parental/Peer Support and Good Coaching. To reach the top in any discipline, in addition, one has to start young as Rory McIlroy or Tiger Woods did. Many people have ability but lack the drive, and it is here where boxers like young Jamie Conroy owe much of their success: Jamie has the ability and he's prepared to put the work in. Ballina has some of the finest boxing coaches in Ireland, they themselves having excelled at the sport as youths and teenagers. A "complete" boxer is one who has competed successfully at all levels, took up coaching/mentoring/refereeing/judging afterwards and also served in administration: Ballina Boxing Club has a number of these complete boxers and that experience is a great advantage when working with the youths and young ladies of the town and hinterland. The new gym on Mercy Road provides a vital facility for boxing: with this gym, Ballina Boxing Club has come of age. The founders of the club in 1927 would be justly proud, and the life-size photo of Dick Hearns on the wall will always be a reminder of what a Ballina man can achieve. Ballina Boxing Club will always be a special place for me too.