A WARRIOR of sport who says he has never feared anyone in a boxing ring or on a hurling pitch has told The Kilkenny Observer that he is frightened out of his wits by Coronavirus.
“The big advantage this roving killer has is that it is impossible to land a punch on him or her because it is invisible.
“I know if I contact the virus at age 87 I will be counted out. That is reality,” Jimmy Walsh, a doyen of Callan Boxing Club since 1947 said.
“I believe we will put this virus on the canvas. I hope I am right for the sake of families that have lost loved ones to the killer and indeed for all of us who are in a daily fight.
“The arrival of Corona has changed all our lives. Most are obeying health rules that are there to protect us.
“The irony is that our original boxing club was founded in 1918 by local soldiers, Paddy Fanning and Bill Bergin at the end of World War 1.
“Now, 73 years later we are at war again but with a very different and even more dangerous enemy.”
Jimmy who won a county senior hurling championship medal with John Lockes in 1957, remains loyal to his first love which he still coaches at the present Callan Boxing Club that was founded 20 years ago.
He is sad that restrictions have hit his club but understands why. But, he believes that boxing has got a blow below the belt.
He explains: “Before the pandemic we catered safely for 30 adults and children. Now we are confined to four boxers and two coaches at any given time.
“That is tough. How can you tell one child he can stay and send another home?
“Children deserve better, it would break my heart to have to make such unfair decisions.
“We have four voluntary coaches, John Hickey, Michael Comerford, Stephen Walsh and I but we can use only two at the same time.”
Jimmy says the club had a wonderful innings with Clare Grace from Tullahought as a real champion, winning 12 Irish titles, three Euro bronze, silver in Multi Nations, represented Ireland at least 20 times and was ranked No. 8 Elite in the World.
Clare boxed from age 12 to 23 with Callan and is now a qualified radiographer in Durham Hospital in England.
“At 26 she is out of the ring now but is still young enough and good enough to be a world champion,” Jimmy believes.
“I have always been a big fan of Katie Taylor, another great female fighter.
“I was so proud in 2015 when Katie and Clare were the only two members of an Irish team to win honours at European Championships.
“Our present club founded in 2000 by Kevin Keogh, Dr Jim Ryan, Sharon Griffen and I, has with the brilliant support of the people of Callan, gone from success to success, winning 40 Irish titles and several Elite crowns.
“Many great fighters have been associated with the club, including my brother-in-law, Johnny Donovan, one of the best our country ever produced.
“I know my coaching days are almost over but I am happy that I will leave the club in the hands of good people in John Hickey and Michael Comerford.
“I will always have great memories to cherish, winning fights and near misses.
“Winners deserve the headlines but we should remember that not everyone can be a champion and that those who may never have experienced the joy of success are also very vital to the noble sport of amateur boxing.”