The scene in Loughlinstown Leisure Centre as the crowds flocked to the venue for the Monkstown International Box Cup.

Monkstown Boxing Club hosted what has become the biggest boxing tournament in the world earlier this month with an incredible 840 boxers weighing in at Loughlinstown Leisure Centre to take part in the Monkstown International Box Cup.

The contest is aimed at boxers aged between ten and 19, and run entirely by volunteers. It continues to attract competitors from across the globe: while planned attendance by teams from India and Sierra Leone didn’t materialise in 2018 for visa and financial reasons, strong teams from the US, Russia, Ukraine and plenty of other European neighbours gave the cup serious international weight.

“The overall quality of boxing was the best we’ve ever seen,” Monkstown Boxing Club’s JP Kinsella said after the weekend. “People were calling it the ‘mini World Championships’. 17 countries were represented, and Loughlinstown was just packed. We had more than 2,500 people watching the five rings at any one time.”

The American team came out on top, taking 11 titles, and also the overall club winners title in the process. They faced fierce competition from local boxers from Crumlin Boxing Club (who took nine titles), and Blackpool’s visiting Sharpstyle Boxing Club (who took seven). Monkstown Boxing Club took six titles of their own, despite the absence of four Irish Champions from the host’s team.

There were also overall awards given to boxers across various categories. Jack Turner of Crossfit Liverpool took the men’s overall title having beaten English and Irish champions and then a fantastic American boxer to win his age/ weight-based category.

The junior men’s title was taken by thirteen-year-old Thomas Varey, from Sharpstyle Blackpool, whose outstanding skill particularly impressed judges as he saw off two opponents comfortably.

In the women’s tournament, Abbey McKay from Salisbury Boxing Club in Liverpool took the senior overall award, having beaten an English and an Irish Champion on the way to winning her weight category.

The junior women’s overall title was taken by Monkstown’s own Aliyah Flood, whose no-nonsense, action-packed style lead to two powerful first round stoppages. “She hits so hard for her size,” Kinsella explained.

The competition was an impressive feat of organisation, which saw all 840 boxers weighed in within half an hour of showing up at Loughlinstown Leisure Centre on the Friday, and hours of consecutive bouts running to plan.

A number of fantastic side stories have grown out of the competition: Ballybrack Boxing Club, for example, hosted three international teams for free, sleeping on the floor of their clubhouse.

Young boxers, aged nine and ten, also took part in highly-popular ‘skills bouts’, contests that had no official victor (official decisions come from age eleven up), but helped prepare the various youngsters for future years.

“If we had the space, we could easily go to eight rings,” Kinsella tells us. “You’d be looking at the RDS or somewhere like that, and we’ll just about break even for it this year.

“Last year, we made a bit of money and subsidised a trip for our boxers, but it’s become more expensive to run, and we want to keep the entry fee down.

“It was an amazing experience. Very tough, but amazing. The volunteers, 40 odd of them, really care about what’s going on.

“The judges and referees were incredible. It’s just a huge collaboration, everyone contributing and no big egos.

“Global Medics, the Lock Inn Pub, who provided lots of the food and an affordable menu, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and the Irish Amataur Boxing Association were all vital to what we did over the weekend.

If you get something like this wrong, it could be a nightmare, but it was just amazing,” Kinsella concludes.