THE WINDS of change are blowing at one of our county’s most successful boxing clubs.
It is far from storm in a teacup as Callan Boxing Club bids to attract volunteers to help with coaching in particular.
One of the reasons for a planned but temporary closure that begins immediately is that head coach Jimmy Walsh is now in his 90th year
And he is attempting to put a structure in place to ensure the continuation of the present club that is now heading for its 21st year.
A former boxer, Jimmy is an ever present in the ring at the clubhouse on the Clonmel Road in Callan.
Although his sight is failing and he admits that he is not as nimble as when he fought in the famous boxing booths of London over 50 years ago, Jimmy continues to coach young pugilists.
However, he knows that he cannot go on forever and hopes to attract more help for club secretary and coach John Hickey and fellow coach Stephen Walsh.
He accepts that work commitments and illness can hit the small but dedicated team of volunteers at the club and believes that a lot more work can be done for local boxing if there are more hands on deck at training nights.
PROUD OF GREAT TRADITION
Jimmy is very proud of the great tradition of the club and delights in reeling off the fantastic CV of achievements at local, national and international levels.
Reality is that the club has had a yo-yo existence from its foundation year of 1918.
It has thrived and then gone dormant on several occasions because of dedicated people reaching their retirement years or, sadly, passing on.
Jimmy recalls that it was local warriors who set the ball rolling after World War 1 when postman Paddy Fanning and his brother-in-law Bill Bergin were founding members.
“In some respects the closures were merely hiccups that, unfortunately, at times, lasted for a few years.
“But thanks to the resilience of local boxing lovers, the club always bounced back stronger than ever,” he told Kilkenny Press.
“We have a good foundation and we have some great people, including our local GP, Dr Jim Ryan and eager coach, Michael Comerford.
“I am confident that there will be those who answer our call for help.
“Lots of young boys and girls want to enjoy boxing. We have the facilities and new blood in coaching can be the bit of magic that we need to put our club on a stronger footing.”
Callan club has had many marvelous boxers in its ranks.
CLARE GRACE WAS CLASS
Perhaps the finest and most famous are the late Johnny Donovan and Clare Grace, both of whom brought great glory to the club and town.
Jimmy says Johnny was one of the finest fighters he had ever seen and credits him with teaching the young Jimmy W the rudiments of the sport.
He says Clare Grace was class. Her Herculean achievement was that she had reached No 8 in the world of Elite Boxing.
The club’s roll of distinction includes 34 Irish titles, over 40 Leinster crowns and five European medals.
With a career as a radiographer in mind, Clare concentrated on her studies where she also proved to be a champion and is now on the radiography staff of Waterford Regional Hospital.
The past has been brilliant, the present needs a makeover but it is the future that club officials hope will now grab the hearts and minds of a local community that has always been supportive.
Callan Boxing Club is bidding to land a punch that will stir potential coaches who will help to stoke the boxing fires that will ensure a blaze of glory for future generations.
Local boxing needs an injection of young guns.
Admirers are confident that retired postman Jimmy will deliver the jab of a new life.