ON Friday (October 4) officers of the recently-revived Northern Ireland Ex-Boxers’ Association stage a first dance and singalong function in the National Club, Queens Street, Belfast.

Former professional featherweights Sammy Vernon (Hon Secretary) and Seanie McCafferty are behind the venture.

“We believe the time is right to take the plunge, and invite all local former fighters and their wives or girlfriends to this special occasion. It will be an ideal opportunity to chat over old times,” says McCafferty.

A seven-man committee, formed at the relaunch of the Association in April – and headed by former British bantamweight champion Paddy Maguire as President – has been working tirelessly to encourage retired Irish amateur and professional fighters to join the Association.

Among those expected are ex-lightweight Pat Campbell, long-serving Ardoyne coach Patsy McKenna, Maurice Quinn, old amateur rivals and fellow Irish internationals John Rodgers of Lisburn and Belfast’s Jim McCourt (the 1966 Commonwealth welterweight champion). Also the 1958 Empire Games lightweight finalist Jim Jordan and ex-pro and amateur bantamweight Jim McAuley.

I’m grateful to Denis O’Hara for supplying the information. I hope the do goes well, and look forward to receiving a report. If your EBA is putting on an event, do tell me – and the more notice you give me, the more I can publicise it.

On Sunday, September 22, Paddy Maguire was one of well over 400 attendees at the British Ex-Boxers’ Hall of Fame Annual Induction Dinner staged by Essex EBA at Orsett Hotel, Orsett. Paddy was inducted into the Early Modern Era category, along with old opponent Johnny Clark and the late Dave Charnley, former European, Commonwealth and British lightweight champion.

Maguire and Clark had a tremendous 15-rounder at the Albert Hall in February 1973, Clark winning on points to take the British bantamweight title left vacant by the retirement of the late Alan Rudkin – whose son paid tribute to Johnny, saying Alan had never forgotten the two hard fights Johnny had given him in British title challenges. Sadly, ill-health prevented Johnny from being present, but his award was accepted on his behalf by his daughter, Natalie – and Dave Charnley’s daughter, Joanne, accepted his award. Both said how proud their fathers would have been to be honoured in this way – a theme that was repeated throughout the afternoon, by winners and their representatives alike.

Other inductees were: Pioneer – Jack “Kid” Berg: Posthumous: Joe Erskine, Walter McGowan: Modern Era – Tony Sibson, Duke McKenzie, Terry Marsh: 100 plus Boxer – Seamus Casey: Amateur Boxer: Chris Finnegan, Ronnie Cooper, Tony Bellew: Professional Trainer – Tony Sims: Amateur Trainer – Joe Lee, Joe Chapman: Manager – Harry Holland: Promoter – Jack Solomons.

The event was brilliantly MC’d by former BN staffer, pro boxer, referee and TV commentator Steve Holdsworth and Home Counties EBA Chairman (and Star referee) Bob Williams. The latter also did a fine job as auctioneer. The raffle on the day raised £2,080 for the Ringside Rest and Care Home, and a special presentation was made to Hastings EBA Chairman Dave Harris, the man behind the project – and also behind this Hall of Fame.

Impossible to mention everyone who was there, but I saw members of Croydon, Brighton, Essex, London, Hastings, Bournemouth, Leicester, Home Counties, Central (Midlands), Wales, Scotland and Leeds EBAs.

Presenting Tony Bellew with his award, former world light-heavyweight champion John Conteh praised him for “bringing a bigger audience to the fight game.” He described Chris Finnegan, whom he beat twice in title bouts, as “one of the hardest I ever fought – he pulled the best out of me.” London EBA Secretary and Treasurer Ray Caulfield described Walter McGowan as “one of Britain’s most talented boxers ever,” and recalled that Walter had helped him start the Scottish EBA. Tony Sibson received his award from Leicester EBA Secretary Alan Parr, who described Tony as “one of Leicester’s most popular sportsmen.”

A great day, again – well, done Essex. Next year’s host will be Wales.