Jack Chambers ‘very concerned’ about IABA as he laments loss of Bernard Dunne as HP director

Jack Chambers has expressed deep concern over the state of Irish boxing following Bernard Dunne’s decision to leave the IABA as High Performance Director.

Dunne’s exit was confirmed on Tuesday as the boxing body appealed for the former world champion, who guided Ireland to two medals in the ring at the Tokyo Olympics, to return on his decision.

However, he is the third high performance manager to step down since Billy Walsh in 2008.

And, with sport in Ireland embroiled in internal warfare, the government wants to see a recently completed governance report implemented.

Until that is done, Sport Ireland has withheld the High Performance Program funding allocation to IABA for the Paris cycle, until 2024, although the day-to-day running of the unit will be taken in charge.

Many other sports such as rowing, canoeing and judo have been boosted by major funding increases as part of a €14.2m allocation that secures funding for the first time multi-year award to Olympic hopefuls.

Funding for rowing has been increased to around 3.3 million euros over the next three years, reflecting the sport’s medal haul in Tokyo and the most awarded of any sport in the programme.

But, at this time, IABA funding has not been confirmed.

Last year the body received €770,000 and to be able to increase that figure Sport Ireland wants to see the IABA implement the governance report “immediately if possible”, says Paul McDermott .

National governing bodies and the SI High Performance Director added: “We are always here to help people with resources, but a lot of the referrals are free, they don’t need us to write them a check. to be implemented immediately.

“Now, straight away can be a bit fast for some people.

“But with the difficulties that boxing clubs and all of indoor sports have had over the past two years, we don’t want them to be exacerbated by the slow implementation of governance reviews, and certainly for boxers.

“It’s going to get hot, qualifying for Paris starts now so they’re of no use to anyone.

“I can’t give you a timeline, they have to get the review and will have to make an implementation plan.”

Meanwhile Chambers, the Minister of State for Sport, admitted: “I am very concerned.

“Bernard did a really good job at the Tokyo Olympics and he’s an incredible asset to boxing, so respected throughout the sport system, and I’m so sorry to see him go.

“I would personally like to thank him for his contribution to Irish sport and hope to see him contribute in the future, but there are specific issues regarding his contract or his employment which I cannot comment on.

“I am very concerned about the ongoing struggles we see in boxing.

“He is the third High Performance Director to go – and it is causing significant disruption and uncertainty for many members across the sport.

“I understand that the governance review that has been undertaken is now with IABA and it refers to many areas across culture and governance, grassroots and high performance.

“It’s clear right now that the IABA needs to move on to implementing a lot of the recommendations and needs to focus on what boxing is about – it’s about the grassroots, the clubs and what it does in so many of domains.”

The Minister, who recalls being present at Dunne’s fight with Prakorb Udomna in 2009, stressed that he had a personal stake in the sport’s difficulties as his father and brothers were involved in boxing in Corduff.

“Boxing does so much for so many communities and to see the constant in-fighting, governance challenges and serious cultural issues affecting the grassroots is very alarming and concerning,” Chambers said.

Jack Chambers TD pictured at ‘Athletes at the center of high performance supports’ announced by Sport Ireland is Minister of State for Sport and the Gaeltacht

“They must act now to positively implement many of the recommendations that have been presented to them and to lay the groundwork and put boxers first.

“We have seen many boxers fight in Europe achieve incredible success over the past few weeks.

“Boxing has achieved great success over multiple Olympic cycles and that is in the shadow of ongoing difficulties at board level that require proper resolution and implementation.”

McDermott said Sport Ireland wanted Dunne to stay in place for Paris.

Prior to Tokyo, however, he was only offered a contract extension that was due to expire in the middle of the new Olympic cycle.

“Bernard did a great job, there are no questions or questions about it,” McDermott added.

“No matter what people say, what he built was exceptional. What they did in Paris in qualifying for Tokyo was exceptional.

“So it’s a loss. There are a number of issues there, but they’re not that complicated, really. They’re as complicated as people want them to be.”

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