Clonmel Boxing Club which has achieved more than 70 national titles since 2000, has done so in sub-standard facilities, without changing rooms, heating, proper flooring or showers.
Deciding that enough is enough, the popular club has embarked on a major fundraising campaign to provide their young members with better facilities and improved training environment.
Let down time and time again by funding bodies, in their bid to raise up to €300,000, to build their own state-of-the-art facility in Elm Park, they have decided to go it alone with their recently launched Buy-a-Brick campaign.
This campaign encourages local people to invest in the future of one of the country’s most sucessful clubs that not only provides top class training, but also offers young people the opportunity to pursue a pastime that for many, has turned into a career.
People can purchase a brick, or as many bricks as they like, for only €1 and all donations must be made through a Paypal account at the Clonmel TSB.
Hopes of securing funding of up to €300,000 for a new facility, through the Sports Capital Programme have been dashed on several occasions, so the club have decided that they will build it themselves.
Already a site has been earmarked in Elm Park for the new facility, with a 40-year lease from Clonmel Borough Council. Up to now, €70,000 - secured through smaller grants, fundraising and support from the local authorities in Clonmel - has been spent servicing the site for water, electricity, gas and sewerage. They are ready to start building whenever the money is there.
“We are going to go it alone, we have to unless something comes up in the meantime,” said Martin Fessessey, chairperson of Clonmel Boxing Club.
“We have put a lot of work into it so far with a 40-year lease from the council and full planning permission also.”
Currently there are 100 members of the club, with a waiting list of about 200. The ages range from 11 to 40, but 90% of the club is comprised of youth members. The club has huge potential but because of space restrictions and lack of facilities, they simply cannot accept new members.
“We just can’t take anymore, and we are very sorry to the people who can’t join right now,” he said. “We have four walls, and that is it, but we have great kids,” he said.
Not having a suitable facility also means that Clonmel cannot invite other clubs to the town for boxing events, or stage tournaments.
“It is not suitable at all. Every club has its own place in the town, we are the only club that doesn’t really. We have lost people beacuse of not having the right facilities, in particular female members,” said Martin.
A fully equipped boxing club would be kitted out with sports hall, weights room, shower, toilets and changing rooms. It is hoped the Buy-a-Brick campaign can help them achieve these things. The brainchild of Dermot O’Donovan, a father of two boys who are members of the club, the campaign has already received support from past members living in America, Australia and Canada.
“We are trying to reach out to everyone around the world if we can,” said Martin.