LIMERICK’S rich boxing heritage is to be further enhanced by the reopening and potential restoration of the historic St Munchin’s Boxing Club in Thomondgate.
The club has reopened after a period of closure and the historic boxing ring that formed its centre - graced by many national and senior champions over the years - has been returned to its home.
Pat O’Halloran, a former national boxing champion and proud Thomondgate man, is leading the charge to restore St Munchin’s to its former glory, and in doing so, help steer children and teenagers in the right direction.
“What we are trying to do is revive the club, get it back up and going again,” said Pat of the club founded in an old schoolhouse in 1958.
“It has been dismal out there for the last ten years probably, thrown by the wayside,” he explained. “We are hoping and praying that other clubs throughout the city will give us a helping hand to get back on track - I believe that in some way, shape or form, we can bring it back.
However, the club requires financing to restore it, Pat says, but not “massive money”.
“I would safely say we are looking at a figure of in and around €5-6000 to put us back. It is not huge money,” he explained.
“My priority is to get the kids in off the street, especially in the Ballynanty, Kileely, Thomondgate area and give them an outlook on life, something to hope for, put them on the right track. Because at this point in their lives, 14, 15, 16, they are going off the beaten track and I believe boxing, all sports, are a way kids can have the right focus in life,” he added.
The building was renovated in 1982 and an international standard boxing ring was installed. While the ring was removed from the building in recent years, it has been returned “without any problems or hassles”.
“There were very special people involved in this boxing club down through the years and I am hoping we can rekindle that and bring them back. We believe in keeping the kids in sport and off the streets,” he said.
Previously, St Munchin’s had an active membership of up to 50 active boxers, and regularly produced national champions, local, Munster and senior champions. Pat believes those glory days are attainable again.
“Maybe sometime soon we could have another Kenny Egan or Katie Taylor, except from Limerick. I believe there are natural champions, world champions, around me and I believe they can go the whole way. Limerick has a great tradition of boxing, one of the best in the country,” he stressed.