Braid Amateur Boxing Club welcomed a knockout visitor – former world champion Barry McGuigan – to its Ballymena clubrooms last week.
The former world featherweight champion-turned-promoter created a real buzz when he visited the club’s Ballykeel base.
“Braid ABC was set to host a visit last year to mark the club’s 10th anniversary, that visit had to be postponed and we had felt that the visit would not take place,” explained Braid head coach John McLeister.
“Barry, true to his word, contacted the club through Ian Paisley, who has always been an advocate of the club, and within a few days, Barry made the journey to Ballymena.”
Barry spent time with the coaches and the boxers and watched as club Boxers Corey Bradshaw, Anthony O’Rawe and Chris Richmond sparred boxers from the Canal Boxing Academy in Lisburn.
McGuigan, who now trains and promotes world bantamweight champion Carl Frampton, was on hand to give the boys tips and advice during the workout and spoke highly of the talent on display.
Mr Paisley commented “It was such a pleasure to welcome Barry to Ballymena. We discussed several months ago about finding a time for Barry to come up to the Braid and its great that we’ve managed to make it happen. This was a special night for the club, the boxers, myself and I trust Barry. He stayed for a lot longer than he had to and it we are very appreciative that he did so.”
Former Ulster bantamweight Senior Champion Anthony O’Rawe was one of the boxers Barry spent time with and clearly saw the potential that he has.
Corey Bradshaw a 16 year old champion welterweight boxer also had Barry in his corner and Barry described Corey as “something special” which will give the local boxers a great lift.
“Barry spent more time with the boys than any of us anticipated, it wasn’t long before he had the coaching pads on and was drilling instruction to Anthony on the pads, whilst watching Corey and Chris sparring,” said Mr McLeister.
A presentation was made on behalf of the club by its youngest member, Jamie Beverland from Cullybackey. Barry was in no hurry away and openly discussed Carl’s training and sparring programme and informally shared memories of his early career and encouraged the boys to stick at it and train hard.
“It was great to be in his company and I know the lads were very inspired by the visit,” said John.
“Ian Paisley, who co-ordinated the visit on behalf of the club and who has always been a fervent supporter, spoke highly of the club which is always good to hear.
“Ian took time out of his busy schedule and used his political influence in a practical way, ensuring that the boxers had a special night to remember.”
“The club is only too grateful to both Ian and Barry for spending time in our Club and with the team,” added John.