Irish Examiner, Monday 29th September
By Áilín Quinlan
There’s no such thing as a Blue Monday for teenager Niamh Harvey —because it’s her night for boxing.
The 14-year-old is one of the few girls currently attending training sessions at the Dunmanway Boxing Club but that’s about to change, as the club is setting up a female-only training night in response to growing interest from women of all ages in the area.
Niamh is so enthusiastic about her boxing sessions that she travels all the way from Bantry, a round trip of 64km, for her weekly workout at the thriving club, which boasts a membership of more than 60 people between the ages of five and 50.
“We do push-ups and sit-ups and weights and skipping and bag punching.
“I get to meet loads of different people. They’re nice in the club and you don’t worry about making a mistake,” says Niamh, who also enjoys swimming and horse-riding.
“I haven’t been in a match yet but I’ve done some sparring.
“The fitness is more important to me than the fighting, but we’ve learned about upper cuts, side cuts, jabs and body shots — it’s good fun and I’ll keep doing it,” she says.
The volunteer-run club, which is open three nights a week, was established in 2010, at the Dunmanway Family Resource Centre in a bid to reduce anti-social behaviour in the community by offering a new sporting activity to teenagers which promoted self-discipline and good health.
While the membership is 80% male, the number of women is steadily increasing — a trend which has encouraged the organisers to introduce a new, once-weekly ‘female-only’ training night on Wednesdays.
“It’s something that was requested by our female membership and also by women in the community, who said they’d love to join if there was a female-only night with specific exercises aimed at women,” says Kirstie Smith, family support worker at the centre.
Another potential Katie Taylor, 14-year-old Ellen Jacob, always liked boxing but knew nobody who was involved in the sport until she joined the club last Spring.
“I’m very much a beginner but boxing is very different from other sports I’ve done like football soccer or tennis,” Ellen says.
She also likes the fact that, as well as teamwork, the sport also requires a strong focus on the development of individual skills.
The low level of female members is not an issue for her, she says, as “everyone is treated the same as everyone else”.
This is the first year that the club, which costs €4,000 a year to run, has managed to stay in the black, thanks, says Smith to a strong fundraising campaign and the hard work of its 11-strong crew of volunteers.
At the moment the organisation, which is affiliated to the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA), is fundraising for a range of state-of-the-art equipment including a mirrored wall, special wall-mounted punch-bags, and a clock for timing rounds.
More adult volunteers are welcome, says Smith:
“You don’t need to know about boxing to volunteer here — we need people to work at reception, help with equipment and take videos of sparring practice, as well as helping out with fundraising and general maintenance.”
–Anyone interested in volunteering with Dunmanway Boxing Club should contact 023-8856818.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved