Dealgan Boxing Club in Marian Park will celebrate their 85th anniversary this year with a fundraising dinner show in the Gateway Hotel on November 25th. The fundraiser will help raise money to send 20 Dealgan boxers to an international tournament in Canada next May. Like many other clubs around Dundalk and further afield this is what the coaches and leaders do to look after their own. Without these vital fundraisers the club would cease to exist and it’s thanks to the dedication and commitment of volunteer coaches at Dealgan that the club is thriving with a membership of about 140 kids coming through the doors four nights a week.
Five years ago the club expanded their gym facilities to cater for the ever-increasing numbers of children and adults who joined the club. If you were to walk through the doors of the club any of the four nights a week it is opened for training you would see kids from eight-year-olds upwards all working hard doing exercises, lifting weights, hitting punchbags and sparring in one of the two rings inside the main room of the building.
Anto Donnelly is the Head Coach in Dealgan Boxing Club and he is proud at how far the club have come and all that they have achieved since first opening their doors in 1938.
“We have a great tradition of producing fantastic boxers down here and I think there is a very good argument to say that we have produced more Irish titles and medals than any other boxing club in the country,” stated Anto.
“We train down here four nights a week and we have a membership of about 140 kids and young adults. We have always been inclusive and we welcome anybody and everybody into our club. People in this country only really talk about boxing every four years when the Olympics is on and they expect our boxers to do well. What they don’t see is the hard work that goes on in boxing clubs up and down the country week in week out with volunteer coaches helping kids get fit, healthy and strong.
“We are more than just a boxing club. We see ourselves as a place to help develop kids characters and help them out with any problems they may have. The fact is that 99% of boxing clubs are in socially deprived areas and we are in the trenches combatting obesity and mental health problems that our children are facing every day. In many respects we are doing the government’s job for them keeping these kids off the streets and out of trouble.If one day every boxing club in Ireland decided to close their doors God knows what would happen,” notes Anto.
“I think people’s perception of boxing clubs isn’t a true perception as they don’t see what we do from a humanitarian point of view. Any kid that comes through those doors is immediately part of our family and we will help that child become strong both physically and mentally.
“We help to put people on the right path, and where they would have to travel far and wide to access support, we want to be able to give it to them, right here where they live. We show them the importance of respect and how to treat people properly. Not everybody who comes in here will want to box and that is ok. And the kids that do want to box we have superb coaches here who volunteer their time to help these kids learn their craft. We have had some brilliant boxers in here down through the years and we have the likes of Sophie Curley Gray and Daisy Kieran who are currently among the best in the country in their respective weight classes.
“We are celebrating our 85th anniversary on the 25th of November in the Gateway Hotel with a dinner dance and all money raised will go towards sending twenty of our boxers to an international tournament in Canada next May. I am thirty years in Dealgan Boxing Club now having started here when I was 23. I became coach of the Elite Irish team three years later and took over as head coach from Willie Muir in 1993. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of all our volunteer coaches we have gone from strength to strength over the last number of years and have been able to expand the facilities with two rooms now in the club where kids train and spar to get strong, fit and healthy. They are all great kids and we love to see them thrive in a safe environment under expert guidance. We’ve been here helping the kids of Cox’s Demesne and further afield for 85 years and hopefully the club will be around for many more years to come,” concluded Anto.
If anybody would like to join Dealgan Boxing Club feel free to call into the club at 6:15 during the week at their premises in Marian Park. Kids must be at least 8 years old to join.