The Castlebar Boxing Club is situated at the Mall in the heart of Mayo’s county town. The Club has being recently refurbished and now incorporates a fully serviced gymnasium. As the Boxing Club in Castlebar continues to grow, the club is proud of it’s long, chequred history . Officers affiliated to County Board in 1937 included the President C. W. Ryan, Newtown Street, and Hon. Secretary J. J. Egan.
First Castlebar club boxers to got to the finals of the Connacht Championships, Senior Bantam S . Carney and 8 st. Juvenile W. Basquill.
Connacht Council report for the annual convention held in the Military barracks. Castlebar, the President Rev. Fr. Morris "paid special tribute to Castlebar for the splendid efforts made by this club to keep the game alive in Mayo" In welcoming the delegates said "that the season just ended was the worst in his knowledge that Connacht ever experienced. There were never fewer tourneys, clubs could not take the risk of staging tourneys as transport facilities were so bad. He hoped that the L.D.F. units ( now FCA) throughout the province might form clubs but so far no move was made in that direction". (this was the war years called the Emergency Period). Castlebar club officials appointed Judges P.H. Gillispey Club hon. Sec., J. Egan ,E. T. Giblin. 1943 first Castlebar Connacht Champions Senior Feather J. Langan,Senior Welter M. Rutledge, Juvenile 7-7 P. Lacey. 8-7E.Giblin
The Castlebar B.C. had training facilities during this period in the Church of Ireland hall on the Mall Castlebar, which is now owned by the Castlebar club. There followed a few years of in activity due to emigration an castlebar boxers competing for the Army or Mayo Boxing clubs.
First report of the County Convention A.G.M. heard the secretary report that Castlebar had not paid the permit for tournament earlier that year. This would be the first of the new club – open air at the Cavalry Barracks (now the Garda Station), The Mall, Castlebar on Sunday afternoon, July 1940. Some results were: 4 st. boys M.O’Neill, Castlebar beat Tommy Horkan, Castlebar; 6 st. Eugene Giblin, Castlebar lost to T. O’Malley, Westport; 7 st. Séan Langan bt. S. Kennedy, Ballina; welter: P. Walsh, Castlebar bt. Pte. Riggs, Army champion 1937; lightweight: Pte. Gaffney bt. F. McCormack, Castlebar; fly: W. Basquill, Castlebar bt. Vol. O’Dwyer; welter: P. Lally, Castlebar bt. J. Moran, Castlebar; feather: Kevin Quigley, Swinford drew with S. Gavin, Westport; bantam: T. Langan, Knockmore, k.o. Pte. Smith 2nd rd.; heavy: Pat Lavelle, Castlebar, k.o. P. Sweeney, Ballina (2nd rd.). A dance followed in the Town Hall.
The great period of Castlebar Boxing started in 1951 when a former Castlebar boxer returned from England, Tom McHugh builder and founder of the Welcome Inn Hotel and reformed the Castlebar club. Training facilities were secured from the De La Salle college in an old hut at the back of the college . The club was fortunate in the calibre of the officials appointed to run the club, chairman Mick Flanagan Sol. Mayo All Ireland Medal Holder, Hon Sec. Paraic O Loughlinn Mayo C.E.O., hon. Tres. Eamon Whelan Head master Castlebar Voc. School, Trainers Tom Mc Hugh, Pat Lavelle former heavyweight boxer and Rev. Bro. Lucian De La Salle, to be later be joined by Wally Basquill on his return to Castlebar from England to work with Tom McHugh as part of his skilled team of builders. Basquill was one of the most stylish boxers of the old Castlebar club, he boxed in England and turned professional and had a good record in the paid ranks.
The Castlebar club was well organised well run and catered for a big number of young boxers. Castlebar officials also made a big contribution to the administration of Amateur Boxing in Mayo and Connacht. After the war years boxing in general was at a low ebb, in Mayo where the Co. Board and many of the clubs had faded away.
The Connacht Council on 3/2/1952 re formed the Mayo Co. Board with P. O Loughlin appointed hon. Sec., Castlebar club took responsibility for running the Connacht Championships. The Championships were held in Castlebar in 1952,53,54,55, 56,57,58,and were always a huge success in the number of entries, standard of boxing and full attendance at all events.
Castlebar boxers started to make an impact in the ring , in the 1952 Championships the Senior Bantam title was won by David Brinklow and F. Mulligan was Lt. Middle Finalist, Castlebar continued to add Mayo and Connacht Championship titles each season. 1957 Castlebar won its first National Championship when Sean Horkan won the Junior Lt Heavy title.
Training and secretarial responsibilities were taken over by Sean Horkan and Castlebar got its second Junior National Championship when Sean Corley won the Light weight title followed other National Championship winners in 1960.
Castlebar training quarters had now changed to the basement level of the Church of Ireland Parochial hall which had been the private acommodation of the church vester MR. Watson and his family. The building skill of the club members was much in use in the voluntary work of changing this small space into a compact gym.
The success of Club boxing tournaments in the town hall gave the members the experience to undertake the promotion of Interprovincial Boxing and move to a larger venue the dining hall of St. Mary's hospital and revived the Duggan Shield competition between the provinces. The next move was to the County Ballroom in the newly built Welcome Hotel for good standard tournaments. This standard moved to a higher level as the Castlebar club developed the televised dinner show and had competition from England ,Wales and leading Irish teams at the Welcome Inn Hotel.
At administration level Castlebar continued to develop amateur boxing ,Sean Horkan was elected as Hon Sec. Of the Connacht Council and proceeded to build from a two Co. Board structure to the five Co. Board administration of up to 35 clubs affiliated. Castlebar and Connacht Officials also played an important part at National level with Castlebar Coaches appointed to Irish teams, Castlebar Judges and Referees have officiated at National Championships, and in International Tournaments in USA and Europe.
In the early 1970's, the Club purchased the building and spent a number of years in fund raising programme to extend the premises provide toilets and showers in a modern gymnasium owned and paid for by the Boxing club. The Boxing Club arranged with the Society of Vincent De Paul to develop their basement area to provide facilities for the Senior Citizens Social Club which was a huge success.
The boxing clubs association with the Society of St. Vincent De Paul is of long standing starting in the mid 1950 s when encouraged by some of the founding members who were also members of the society Christmas visits to the old Co. Home to distribute small gifts of cigarettes, tobacco and some small bottles of spirits was established as an annual event with some exhibitions of boxing by the juvenile members. The funding for this undertaking was collected at the County Cinema each year with a Christmas Tree under which the club members collected from the cinema Gower's. The boxing club also brought visits and entertainment to St. Mary's Hospital where a more organised boxing display was organised.
The Castlebar club organise the annual Carnival which provides the revenue to run the club and gymnasium for the benefit of app. 50 Juveniles. The club organise 4 tournaments each year at juvenile level and take part in all Championships. The club's entry in the St. Patrick's Day parade is always praised and is a regular prize winner. Awards in the Tidy Town competition have been received by the clubs on many occasion for their contribution in maintaining the area around the club in a clean and tidy condition. After the restoration of the club's building, a European Environment Award was won for the work undertaken.
Article by Eamon Horkan. Reproduced by his kind permission