Smithfield Boxing Club’s increasingly alluring annual festival ‘Smithfield Boxfest’ expanded to a two-day event over the weekend, grabbing the attention of the local community with another fantastic series of contests.

This year’s competition benefited from an unlikely political quirk that pushed the quality through the roof. Russia hosted the European Championships at almost the same time as the Smithfield event, and the Ukrainian side decided to boycott it due to political issues.

Instead sending their international first team squad to compete in Smithfield. Inevitably, that led to a strong performance from a world boxing superpower, who took home many titles.

The festival also featured teams from Norway, Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Palestine, as well as a number of Irish teams, including St Catherine’s, Smithfield and Mullingar.

Organiser and coach Igor Khmil highlighted the value ‘Boxfest’ has for local boxing and Irish boxing in general. “Ireland has an incredible reputation for boxing,” Khmil told the Dublin Gazette. “We’re really happy, it went very well over the weekend.

“Boxfest is getting better and attracting a higher level of boxer every year. It’s become a thing to say that you’ve done as a boxer, so their names add to our reputation, and outs to theirs. The Ukrainian team brought a World Champion, a European Champion and a European bronze medalist, so there were some serious boxers. A lot of the other boxers really stepped up, too. I think they got a few eyes popping out of heads with the quality.

“It’s a good chance to try to adapt to different styles and get plenty of experience, especially for those looking at going to the Olympics.

“We had a really good community connection this year. It felt like people started to notice what’s going on in their backyards. We also had some local rivalry, with some exhibitions between St Catherine’s in the south inner city and out north inner-city boxers. The clubs have really given then discipline and something to drive for.

“We also had some beginner boxers fighting in exhibitions, which is a great experience for them, fighting alongside an elite line up. They grew three inches, I think.” Boxfest also linked up with Dublin Sportfest, something which gave Khmil greater focus for community driven match ups.

Oleg Kudinov led the victorious Ukraine team, who received awards for the two best boxer at the competition, with Maksym Gorodnyuk (at 52kg) and Yuriy Zakharyev (at 66kg) singled out. In total, the impressive team took no fewer than ten gold medals across various categories, as well as the award for best referee and best trainer, and the overall team gold.

Ciara Walsh starred for the home side, with the under-18 national silver medallist taking home the female boxer of the tournament after helping launch the event on Thursday. Smithfield’s Lucy Purdy added the youth 75kg title, while Conor Bolger took silver in the senior men’s 75kg category.

The show must got on, and Khmil is already looking ahead to another year exploring his passion through the tournament. “It’s really takes a lot of time, and we’re all volunteers,” he explains. “Everyone is welcome at the club, including total beginners, who are often the most helpful with the side things at the event, the organisational things.”

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