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A proud and poignant boxing success

Sport

A FAMILY AFFAIR Irish champion Michael Mullaney (centre) of Claremorris BC is pictured with his coaches, Tom Mullaney (left) and Joe Charles after being presented with the ‘Best Boxer’ award named in memory of Michael’s late father, Joe.

The Mullaney family celebrated another national title recently

Feature
Ger Flanagan

THE Mullaney family from Balla carry a rich and powerful boxing tradition, fighting out of Claremorris Boxing Club.
They recently celebrated adding their latest national champion to the family roll of honour.
Young Michael Mullaney shone as bright as the northern star in the National Boxing Stadium two weeks ago as he claimed victory in the Boy 1 44.5kg final against a fancied opponent.
It was the club’s first national title since 2013, but for Claremorris Boxing Club and the Mullaney family, this victory carried much deeper meaning than the silverware.
Michael is the son of the late Joe Mullaney, himself a former Mayo and provincial champion and proud Claremorris Boxing Club man, who tragically passed away in a car accident in 2015.
So when Michael’s hand was raised aloft after his victory, it sparked emotional scenes from his coaches and his family, all of whom were in attendance to cheer on their grandson, nephew and cousin.
“We were confident that Michael was going to win the bout and we probably knew before his hand was raised that he had done enough, but it was absolutely brilliant when it happened,” club coach Ray Charles told The Mayo News.
“It was really emotional, because the whole Mullaney family had travelled up from Balla in a bus and it was tremendous to see the support.
“Many of Michael’s uncles, and indeed his father too, had enjoyed special nights in that same stadium, but this moment was a different type of special.”
To make the moment even more poignant and memorable, one of Michael’s coaches is his uncle and godfather, Tom Mullaney, who, alongside Ray Charles, Conor Dennedy, John Cummins, Michael Regan and Martin Ward, were ten foot tall with pride that night.
Michael’s uncle, also named Michael, is a former five-time national champion, while his late grandfather (another Michael), was a hugely influential figure in the Claremorris Boxing Club throughout the years. His other uncles, PJ, Dermot and Johnny were all involved in shape or form throughout the years too.  
The Joe Mullaney Memorial Trophy
TWO years ago Claremorris Boxing Club established an annual award that would be presented to the best up and coming boxer in Claremorris and fittingly named it after the late Joe Mullaney.
In recognising the sheer scale of Michael’s victory, the club were delighted to award Michael with the trophy named after his father at an emotional and busy homecoming last Monday evening.
A huge crowd turned out in Claremorris to welcome home their hero, with family, friends and club members past and present turning out. It was also a special moment for Bridgie Mullaney, Michael’s grandmother, who was on hand to see the trophy being presented to her loving grandson.
Having presented the trophy himself the past two years, it was now Michael’s day in the sun.
“The atmosphere in the town that night was really something else,” Ray Charles said.
“There was a massive turnout to The Ranch pub, Byrne’s pub and the boxing club to welcome Michael home.
“Joe used to have Michael in the boxing club when he was only crawling around the place, and it’s fantastic now that his uncle Tom has helped follow on Joe’s dream of seeing Michael be the best boxer he can.
“It was an emotional moment in the gym that night, especially for the family. I know from talking to Bridgie it absolutely meant the world to them because that’s the type of bond the Mullaney family and that’s why they are so well got from everyone.”

Going the extra mile
RAY Charles highlighted that Michael’s talent in the boxing ring was clear to see from an early age. Like his father, he is ‘cool as a breeze’ outside the ring, but once inside the ropes, his fiery and explosive power, coupled with technical ability, came to the fore.
Living in Galway, Michael divides his training time between there and Claremorris Boxing Club, and Ray Charles was fulsome in his praise for the effort and commitment Michael’s uncle, Tom, places on helping his godson achieve his dreams.
“There is an awful lot of work put in behind the scenes to be able to reach this point and Tom has done an awful lot of that,” he said. “He would bring Michael the length and breadth of the country every week just to be able to get quality spars for him.
“He would train with Michael in Galway during the week and at weekends they would train in Claremorris Boxing Club and we’re delighted to have them here. It’s an absolutely massive commitment for both Tom and Michael but they have no problem in doing it.
“Michael is delighted because he wants to wear the Claremorris Boxing Club jersey when he is fighting and only that.
“Joe had a massive impact on our club, and he was training since he was eight or nine years old. He came in with his brothers and you could see the potential straight away.
“My father, Joe, actually said that he thought Joe was as good if not better than his brother, Michael. He was fiery and would dance around the ring and he went on to fight at a really high level.”
Michael is now the pride of Claremorris Boxing Club, but Ray Charles highlighted that his training partner and friend, Mike Ward, also played a big part in accompanying Michael to Dublin and keeping him from getting distracted before his big fight.
Both of the aforementioned boxers are names you will hear again.

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