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Boxing: St Brigid's Edenderry Sparring Camp a resounding success
by Michael O'Neill
August 30,  2017

(AUG 30) More than 120 boxers from countries including India, Canada, Taiwan, France, England (inc Isle of Man) Scotland, Norway, and of course Ireland, have ended a highly successful International Sparring Camp at the St Brigid’s club in Edenderry. The camp was officially from 24-29th August but many of the boxers were already in situ on 22nd August preparing for what has been described as the “World’s largest” sparring camp for female boxers.

Photo credit:   St Brigid’s Edenderry Training Camp

Indeed so successful and beneficial was the camp that the Indian team – including five times World Champion, MC Mery Kom – stayed on for extra sparring ahead of major international tournaments later this year and asked Edenderry coach Liam Morley Brereton if he could use his ‘good offices’ to arrange a test match between India and Ireland.

Brereton and his IABA officials were only too keen to facilitate the Indians so a rare treat in store for fans of Irish women’s boxing as not only Kom and the leading Indians will be in action but a very strong Irish selection will include Christina Desmond, former World Junior champion Ciara Ginty and Belfast’s Kristina O’Hara. This will take place at Dublin’s National Stadium on Saturday Sept 2nd from 7 pm when some 14 bouts are scheduled.

Photo credit:  Pat Ryan (IABA President) , MC Mery Kom (India) ,Stephen Connolly (IABA) & Liam Brereton (St. Brigid’s Head Coach)

Kom, full name ‘Chungneijang Mery Kom Hmangte’, claimed bronze at London 2012 and won her five World titles at 45kg,46kg and 48kg. Also a four-time Asian champion, she secured silver at the inaugural World Women’s Elite Championships in the USA in 2001.

Kom and Ireland’s own Katie Taylor are the only women to win five AIBA World Championship gold medals.

A member the Upper House of the Indian Parliament, Kom was appointed a national observer for boxing by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in the Indian government in 2017. She is contemplating continuing in the sport up to and including the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. She was also honoured as an AIBA Legend in 2016.

What of the camp itself? All those that were present were fulsome in their praise for the Edenderry club and the hospitality afford them by Brereton and his Club officials and their families. Canada’s Charlie Cavanagh posted this on her Facebook page and was typical of social media posts on the event:

“As I sit on a plane back to Canada, I feel both eager to get home and sad to be leaving. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to attend this sparring camp alongside numerous countries including India, Norway, Taiwan, France, and many more. The training was absolutely amazing and I have learned so much in the past week.

Being able to spar with and receive feedback from people of all nations, style, and capability was truly an experience of a lifetime. Not only was the training top notch, but the people of Edenderry were both extremely welcoming and incredibly kind.

An ordinary family accepted myself and 5 other Canadian girls into their home and treated us as their own, and I can't thank them enough for the hospitality. Lastly I'd like to thank Liam Morley Brereton for all he's done for myself and other athletes, from drives, to accommodations, to meals...the list goes on. So long Edenderry, I'll be back!”

As we go to Press there are strong rumours that Brereton is contemplating putting his name forward for the post of “Secretary of the IABA” at the forthcoming AGM in addition to others including Antoinette Faye McClean and Dublin County Board official Arthur O’Brien.

Brereton himself would neither confirm or deny these rumours but several clubs and their officials, in different provinces seem keen to utilise the considerable expertise and contacts he has built up not only with International Sparring Camps like this but also as coach and great supporter of Irish women’s boxing.

Few have the knowledge or experience of the Edenderry man and clearly he has much more to offer to Irish boxing. Hopefully one day the IABA will recognise and reward his skills with a place at the ‘Top Table’ of IABA Officer Board of Directors.

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