When many people enter a boxing club for the first time, they may expect to see a certain scene. The rhythmic sound of a speed bag being worked over, the loud slow thud of a heavy bag being methodically hit, maybe a grizzled trainer with a mouth guard in one hand and a spit bucket in the other. When Terry Keegan came to DCU this year he found none of these things. He found absolutely nothing.
“I came into the college this year and there was no boxing club set up. They didn’t have enough funding last year so they couldn’t get insured to box. The guys who took over the club last year didn’t run it properly and
they didn’t re-establish it at all this year, so I put in a grant appli- cation to set it up,” said Keegan.
Keegan is in the peculiar situ- ation of being the treasurer of DCU’s Boxing Club, despite only being in first year. He now finds himself with the unfavourable task of trying to promote a club that was not up and running in time for Clubs and Socs day. This is compounded by a considerable membership decline since last year.
“We missed clubs and socs day so that affected our numbers. Last year the club had over 150 members and this year we only have 54. Before, people might have joined and not gone to train but at least then you were getting some money that you could use for the club. It’s hard to get our name out at the moment. It’s important that we use the website to advertise the club a bit better and we hope to do a fight night in the venue to raise money for the club,” he said.
Coaches Mark and Derek Ah- ern have been brought in from St Saviour’s Boxing Club, the same club that produced DCU Olym- pian Darren Sutherland. Given how the popularity of the sport has increased due to the success of the Olympians, it is a mas- sive surprise that there was no continuous boxing club in DCU. Boxers on campus really drew the short straw this year. No club meant no initial funding, no funding meant no equipment and they are now waiting to hear how much money their grant ap- plication will yield.
“Our coaches are paid for the full year and they bring gear down with them which is a great help. We have almost no equip- ment for the club so we’d like to use any money we get on more bags, headgear and gloves. Any grants or money we raise will be put back into the club. If we could get enough funding to rent a ring it would be great,” said Keegan.
It isn’t totally depressing though. They may not have a treasure chest of cash or a gym full of equipment, but they have a group of boxers dedicated to the sport. When light on facili- ties and resources, it is the lit- tle things that become impor- tant. Showing up to trainings, a few nights out and maybe some hoodies to give boxers a bit of presence around campus can be just as important as funding for forging an identity and together- ness at the fledgling club.
“There are lads there who are very talented and others who are very fit and you can tell that they will pick up the sport very quickly. There is potential there and the competitiveness is un- believable. We’re trying to foster a club atmosphere, we’re train- ing together and we’re trying to organise getting hoodies and maybe a few nights out as well. I’m hoping to build this club up over the next four years. This is year one and hopefully next year we will be more organised,” said Keegan.
The amount of funds the club is allocated will dictate a lot of what they are able to achieve, but Keegan is part of a group that have put building blocks in place. Year one has been a slow burn but a slow burn can often lead to an explosive finish.