Public Affairs

Boxing builds bridges

belfast beltway Sport is helping to connect young people across the community divide in Belfast and across the Atlantic as well. Peter Cheney reports on the Belfast Beltway Boxing Classic.

Twice a year, the Belfast Beltway Boxing Classic alternates between Washington DC and Belfast and brings together young people from less privileged backgrounds in the name of sport. This year’s event, consisting of 10 fights, took place at Titanic Belfast on 14 November. Each one comprised three two-minute rounds.

“It’s a beautiful place. It’s beautiful but colder than I expected,” said Tyrell Boyd from Baltimore. The 20-year old was there for the 81kg round against Lisburn’s Arthur Strum. Boyd, an army reservist, was impressed with the “respectful people and amazing scenery.”

Sean Garvey (18), a science student from Newry, was looking forward to his 63kg contest match against Tommy Avaler and had either boxed or followed boxing “all my life”. Boyd and Garvey both won their fights.

boxing3 The programme aims to help young people broaden their horizons and understand that others who are very different from themselves may be facing very similar problems in life. The match-ups were overseen by the County Antrim branch of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association to ensure fairness.

The Belfast contingent was cross-community and the opening ceremony saw the flags of the UK, Ireland and USA brought together in the ring as gifts were exchanged. Hannah Gibson sang the Star Spangled Banner while John Donnelly performed Danny Boy.

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