Northern Ireland have strong representation in the semi-finals of the boxing tournament at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday.
Seven boxers from their team will be in action at the NEC in Birmingham, vying for a place in Sunday’s final but already assured of a medal.
Carl Frampton understands the pride that comes with winning a medal at these Games. He became a two-weight world champion and sports star. But he never went to the Commonwealths and still regrets it.
“It’s just one of those things, you win the Ulster Championships and that’s your ticket to the Commonwealth Games, that’s all,” he said. sky sports.
“I was champion of Ireland and I think probably number one in the Four Nations at the time. I had just won multi-nations the week before. If I hadn’t come into Ulsters I would have been sent, I think, just because I was the champion of Ireland, but I participated and lost.
“I remember coming home and crying because I wanted to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games. That never happened.
“I would have been extremely proud to represent Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games.”
Boxing is an important sport in Northern Ireland. “It’s huge. It wasn’t that long ago that the Ulster Championships were shown on TV in Northern Ireland,” Frampton said. “It’s a sport that people respect at home.”
It is also a sport that transcends social and political divides there.
“Boxing in Northern Ireland has always been a sport that brings people together,” Frampton said.
“I don’t really know why. Maybe it’s because of the respect and reverence you have to have for someone who is brave enough to walk through the ropes. It takes a lot of courage to do that.
“That’s kind of my answer. It might be the right answer but I don’t know.”
Amateur boxing clubs play an often underestimated but extremely valuable role in their communities.
“My former coach Billy McKee always used to say the greatest accomplishments for him as a coach weren’t me winning championships or anything, or somebody else winning titles, but it was about taking a guy going through a rough patch, maybe going down the wrong path, and putting him back on the right path, a kid going off to college who maybe wasn’t supposed to , and succeed or get a job,” Frampton said.
“They were real successes for him. Maybe people outside see that and understand that. I think all sports also at this level, it’s all voluntary and those guys give a lot. time to just try and help, help others.”
Frampton believes top athletes like him should use this position. He was at the Commonwealth Games to support the Northern Ireland team but also to speak at the Beyond the Games conference. He was one of 250 sports leaders present. Asked if the sports sector was doing enough to use its power and popularity in society to help break down social barriers and tackle inequalities in local communities, 70% were neutral or disagreed.
“The positive impact and influence that sports people can have, people listen to them for whatever reason,” Frampton said. “Because you have a platform, you have to use it in a positive way.
“In Birmingham [these boxers] will be able to send their own positive message as Commonwealth medalists. »
Northern Ireland have quality boxers like Amy Broadhurst, Michaela Walsh, Jude Gallagher and many more in the semis. Frampton is tipping Dylan Eagleson as a player to watch.
“[He] just won a silver medal at the European championships, he is only 19 years old. You know how hard it is to win a medal for the Europeans,” Frampton said. “All these Eastern Bloc countries, they can all fight, they all have very good fighters. Some even say that [securing a medal] for the Europeans, it’s as hard as at the Olympic Games, because there aren’t really any easy fights.
“There’s a lot of media attention on the Commonwealth Games, people will be able to see him and find out a bit more about him. Which should be because he’s a nice boy and a very, very good fighter. It’s more exposure for them, more than medals. Medals are important but exposure is very important too.”
England, Wales and Scotland also have quality boxers in the semi-finals.
Reigning Commonwealth silver medalist Rosie Eccles takes on Eireaan Nugent of Northern Ireland. Lewis Richardson of England boxes Sam Hickey of Scotland in a top middleweight bout.
Welsh lightweight Taylor Bevan and England’s Aaron Bowen have both made great strides in this tournament. They collide at 80kg and exciting super heavyweight Delicious Orie of Birmingham battles out for a place in the final against New Zealand’s Leuila Mau’u at the end of a long boxing session.
The biggest fight in women’s boxing history – Claressa Shields vs Savannah Marshall – is live on Sky Sports on Saturday September 10. Be a part of history and buy London Showdown tickets here.