Eglinton ABC well able to punch above its weight
Eglinton Boxing Club may only be considered a young buck in boxing circles, but if recent championship and medal wins are anything to go by, the club is definitely punching above it’s weight - and to great effect.
Chatting with Jim Knox, who is one of the coaches and the Club secretary, it is clear there is a very up-beat atmosphere in the club, which was formed six years ago.
Unlike many clubs, which come into being because of one person’s vision, Eglinton Amateur Boxing Club (EABC) came to be following a consultation process with the young people in the village, and it is evident even to the untrained eye, that it is the young members who drive the club and give it energy.
Asked to get onboard as a coach, Jim admitted that initially he only had “a bit of training and a bit of boxing, but not very much”, so his first aim was to get some serious qualifications under his belt. As a result he completed a course qualifying him as a boxing coach through the Irish Amateur Boxing Association and went on to qualify as a judge through the same governing body.
Registered through Derry City Council, Jim undertook courses in child protection, first aid and became a designated child support officer, and as he looks back at the strides made in the club, it is clear he is proud of the progress: “The club has gone from strength to strength. When we started off it was more like a youth club and there were people who wanted to come down and train. We had a lot of people coming to us to do training and keep fit and the like.”
The club branched out relatively quickly, with outreach to The Fountain and strong links have bene forged with Graham Warke there. In addition, numbers affiliated to the club have soared to 50, with a range of age groups attending. In effect there are two clubs - the Junior Club on a Monday, which is more about fun and positive social interaction for those aged six to 10 - and the Senior Club, which meets on a Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Boxercise and kickboxercise have further widened the appeal of the club.
Reflecting on the early days and the growth of the club, he said: “About six months after we opened we were lucky enough to have Robert Whiteside walk through the doors. He is a very accomplished boxer and he, too, decided he would like to do a bit of coaching and so began the roots of establishing our club.
“Robert and I set about getting our coaching badges together, these also include boxercise and kickboxercise and Robert also went on to complete his PT course as well, while I went on to do my Judges Course in Amateur Boxing.”
Robert is a big part of this club, which they run together. Robert is the President and Jim Club Secretary. Another key person to the club is Joe Campbell.
“Joe Campbell started around the same time as Robert. Joe is probably the longest serving boxer we have and he also completed his Level 1 coaching course last year and is still an active boxer. In fact last week he won the Donegal Open Championships. In the last year we have been joined by Sean Devenny, also a boxer and a recent convert to coaching, who has also completed his Level 1.
“No club can run without the co-operation of a number of trusted people who help out when asked or needed. We have a number of these people who have also been gone through Level 1 coaching. They are Enda Mc Laughlin, Adrian Moyne, Joe Proctor and Paschal Cooke,” he said.
Jim is keen to ensure that the ‘behind the scene team’ of families, wives and partners are not forgotten, as their support is what has allowed the club to flourish: “We have to thank our wives and partners, who allow us to follow our passion.”
He also thanked the parents that week on week sent their children to the club, as well as for trusting the club to look after the wellbeing of their children.
“We have had plenty of success so far this year and long may it continue,” he said, obviously delighted with the success to date.
Still buoyed by the success of the Irish International Select versus Scottish Select tournament in the Guildhall at the end of October, Jim revealed that Eglinton ABC had been given the privilege of Hosting the Ulster Open Championships in the new sports hall on the November 30.
“Its a nice way to end boxing’s involvement in the City of Culture, after opening in January with the Ulster Elite Championships in the Venue,” he said.
Other major highlights this year alone included Stacey Sloane winning the Novince Intermediate, while Joe won the Donegal Open. Then there was young Cormack Dillon, who boxed his way to the Ulster Finals on Saturday last, and Shane Murray, who got a walk through to win the Ulster Novive 33Kilo event a fortnight ago.