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FISU World University Championships - Chiang Mai - Thailand - October 3rd-8th
by Michael O'Neill
Photo credit:  courtesy/IABA.ie
September 23,  2016

(SEPT 23)  Ireland is sending a strong team to the 2016 World University Games boxing tournament which this year takes place in Chiang Mai, Thailand (October 3/8).

Competitors must be at least 19 and under 28 years of age on January 1st, 2016 so born between January 1st 1988 and December 31st 1997.

The event is organised by FISU, the University International Sports Association.

Being members of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) means of course that there are only the 3 Olympic weights for women whereas 10 for men.

Women:48kg to 51kg, 57kg to 60kg, 69kg to 75kg

Men:46kg - 49kg, 52kg, 56kg, 60kg, 64kg, 69kg, 75kg, 81kg, 91kg, +91kg

The Irish team chosen for this the 7th World University Championships, at Chiang Mai University BC in Thailand: October 3/8 is:

51kg Ceire Smith – Cavan BC & Dublin City University

60kg Gary McKenna – Old School BC Monaghan & University of Ulster, Jordanstown

75kg Christina Desmond – Fr Horgan’s BC, Cork & Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT)

75kg Conor Wallace – St Monica’s Newry & Southern Regional College, Newry

91kg Kenneth Okungbowa – Athlone BC & AIT in Westmeath

Team Manager is the highly experienced IATBA official – Paul Geoghegan who has regularly taken Irish teams to International tournaments such as the Haringey Box Cup in London.

Ceire Smith, a multiple Irish Elite champion, and current Irish Elite champion Christina Desmond ‘line out’ at flyweight and middleweight with both hoping to medal in South East Asia.

Kenneth Okungbowa, a two-time Irish Elite finalist, competes at heavyweight,and Conor Wallace,also an Irish Elite finalist, and Irish U/23 champion Gary McKenna wear the middleweight and lightweight vests.

Eamonn O’Kane and Cathal McMonagle competed in the inaugural World University Championships in 2004 in Turkey. McMonagle reached the last-eight, the nearest an IATBA boxer has got to a medal at this level.

That’s a statistic that Smith, Desmond, McKenna, Okungbowa and Wallace will be looking to change at the 7th edition of the tournament next month.

Another top Irish boxing student, though not competing in Thailand, is the 20 years old Grainne Walsh from Sparticus Tullamore and a student of NUIG Galway so lots of great boxers in the Irish universities and colleges.

In her first major International event she reached the quarter finals of the AIBA World Senior Elite Championships in Astana this Summer and is another potential ‘star of the future’

For those of our readers not familiar with the World University Games here is a little background to the boxing tournament.

The event is controlled by the University International Sports Association (FISU). The 1st World University Boxing Championship took place in 2004 in Antalya, Turkey, making boxing one of the ‘youngest’ sports within the programme of the FISU World University Championships, of which there are currently 38 sports participating.

Attracting 128 of the best student boxers for the first edition, in Ankara, the event is usually held in such countries where boxing is one of the top sports as Turkey, Russia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia, the WUC Boxing is a top-level event that FISU continues to attract top class competitors as each year goes by.

The 2006 tournament was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, that of 2008 in Kazan, Russia, whilst the 2010 Games moved to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

In 2012 it was the turn of Azerbaijan’s Baku and by 2014 the 6th Edition went back to Russia, this time to Yakutsk.

The Russian athletes won 7 gold medals, 2 silver and 2 bronze, leading the medal tally ending first place by the team results. Among them two local Yakut athletes - Vasily Egorov and Darman Kutubekov. All medals were made of precious metals with Yakut diamonds.

There were two women’s weights in that tournament, the first time that female students had participated.

Russia’s Sayana Sagataeva took the 51kg crown over Korea’s Baik Cho-Rong 3:0 whilst at the 60 kg lightweight division, Shoria Zulkainarova of Tajikistan lost 0-3 against Anastasia Belyakova, the Russian who took bronze at the Rio Olympics last month, losing there only to eventual Gold medallist Estelle Moselly in the semi-final.

At the 2014 closing ceremony the famous Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao addressed the participants via video link: "It is a great honour to have welcomed the participants of the 6th World University Boxing Championship. Unfortunately, I couldn't be with you on this big sports celebration. I am sure that the Championship was successful and became the start of an international career for many of you”

The Opening and Closing Ceremony, and some of the Games, will be broadcast live on free digital TV – NEWTV, via website: http://wucboxing2016.cmu.ac.th/

2014 FISU World Championships – Yakutsk – results courtesy Strefa Poland boxing:   Link

All you need to know about this year’s event in Chiang Mai:



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