PICTURE SLIDESHOW: Opening of Southside Boxing Academy

THE cream of future Irish boxing Olympians could hail from Limerick with the official opening of a new boxing academy by Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar.

The Southside Boxing Academy, located in a 14,000 square foot corner of the former Fulflex building in Galvone Industrial Estate, already boasts close to 100 members on its books and hopes to become a high performance unit for boxing in Munster.

Opening the academy, Mr Varadkar said it was “a good symbol for the regeneration and rebirth that is going on in Limerick”.

“There was of course the Southill Boxing Club that was here before about nine years ago, and had to close down for various reasons, but what is opening today is bigger and better than what went before,” he said.

“I hope the facility is going to be a real success,” he added.

Boxers John Joe Nevin and Darren O’Neill, plus the popular local boxer Willie Casey, were on hand to open the facility along with Mayor Cllr Gerry McLoughlin.

Mayor McLoughlin paid tribute to the “fantastic work” being done in opening the unit, and said he looked “forward to seeing many international boxers coming out of this ring in years to come”.

The academy has been open for some four months and already boasts nearly 100 members of all ages, including nearly 10 girls, inspired by Katie Taylor, explained president Gerry Barry - former head of Southill Boxing Club.

“If you saw the state of this place when we came in first, it was just an unused factory,” he explained. “This was all done by volunteers - we got one grant of from the Shane Geoghegan Trust, for the ring. Everything else was sponsored.

“We have a lot more work to do but work has stopped because we need money. But the amount of volunteers we are getting is unreal, amazing. It is a great community effort.”

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