27/09/2012

MLAs Visit Belfast Boxing Club

Northern Ireland MLAs are to visit a Belfast boxing club which claims to have been subjected to sectarianism for a decade.

Members of the Assembly’s Department of Culture Arts and Leisure (DCAL) committee will visit the club on Sandy Row, which is mainly Protestant, amid claims that its members have suffered verbal and physical assaults in nationalist areas.

The club has compiled a 57-page report detailing the incidents, while the Irish Amateur Boxing Association have confirmed they are investigating the allegations.

The Sandy Row club claims their members were assaulted while their boxers fighting in places like west Belfast in the ten years to 2010.

In August, club secretary Ian McSorley claimed many young fighters had quit the sport because of what had happened to them.

He said the problem had affected other clubs from Protestant areas.

Mr McSorley told the BBC the club regularly complained to the boxing authorities, including the regulatory body, the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA).

According to the BBC, the club has put forward an eight-point plan to combat the problem.

The plan includes creating a sense of neutrality through holding tournaments in neutral venues and fighters sporting neutral colours while competing.

The matter is being addressed as Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín focuses on the development of a boxing strategy in Northern Ireland. Ms Ní Chuilín announced a £3m investment to the sport in August, following the successes of Belfast boxers Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes at the London 2012 Olympic games.

Speaking following their medal winning success in August, the Sports Minister said: "In communities…across the North, boxing is much more than a sport, it is a life-saver."

(IT)

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