Members of the Monkstown BC team at last year’s Box Cup

Monkstown Boxing Club are in the final stages of preparations for their 6th annual Monkstown International Box Cup, which takes place from June 28 to July 1 at Loughlinstown Leisure Centre.

The cup is only six years old but is widely regarded as one of the top international age-group competitions in the world, attracting ever more high-class boxers aged between 10 and 19 to the annual event.

The cup started out with 75 boxers, taking place in a single ring in Sallynoggin’s Holy Child School in 2013.

Last year, the move to Loughlinstown Leisure Centre came about as a result of a year-by-year expansion to over 700 boxers.

This year’s event will feature 928 fighters, with morning to night fights in five simultaneously-operating rings.

“We started out as a way to try and see if we could use boxing to help take people away from drugs problems in the area, keep people off the street,” JP Kinsella says of the club’s early days.

“We got access to a single old flat and we set up in there. Now we have 170 boxers, with 50 down most nights for training. It’s important that the club is accessible. We charge €2 per session for Under-16s, €3 for over 16s until they get a job, then €5. It’s for serious boxing, and fitness.”

The Box Cup was originally designed to test the club’s members against some other fighters. “It grew legs,” Kinsella explains. “We’ve had European Champions and English Champions. Gabriel Dossen, who was a Box Cup gold medalist, is now a world silver medalist.”

The cup draws big crowds, too. Last year, there were typically 2,500 people at any one time in Loughlinstown Leisure Centre to watch the contests, an astonishing crowd for underage boxing.

“I’ll never forget this little American lad we had last year, called DJ Zamora III,” Kinsella recalls.

“I think he might be the best schoolboy boxer I’ve ever seen. He knocked out the Irish champions in two rounds, and then beat the English lad, a European silver medalist, 5-0 in his semi-final. His final was a walkover, but he got boxer of the tournament. He’s back this year, and he’s bringing his brother.”

“This year we have fighters coming from 191 clubs in 19 countries, including Sierra Leone, India, Russia, the Ukraine, Nova Scotia in Canada, and lots of different American clubs.

“It’s recognised as the biggest boxing tournament in the Europe.”

That’s an extraordinary rise for a club initially intended as little more than a remedy for local social problems.

“This couldn’t run without our volunteers, who all work for nothing, and our sponsors, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, the IABA and, as well as many other local businesses. It’s a great time for the club.”