By Jimmy Rhatigan
STUDENTS from around the world have fallen in love with the grand old gentleman of Kilkenny boxing.
A group of girls from a host of countries came here to study at St Brigid’s College, Callan and were welcomed to the local boxing club by Head Coach, Jimmy Walsh who proved to be a charming ambassador.
Result was that a proud parish club quickly became a cosmopolitan arena where locals and visitors delighted in working together.
The club which has a mighty tradition now boasts over 30 active members, a membership that swelled with the arrival of young students from several countries.
The Clonmel Road HQ of the club was bustling as girls from Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, Italy, Holland and China put on boxing gloves, enjoyed training and sparring.
Most of the students who stayed in the homes of host families have now returned to their own homes to continue studies.
The visitors made many friends here and were thrilled with the warm welcome they received.
The girls too left positive vibes at the club. They said they would always treasure the happy days they spent in Callan and promised to keep in touch with new found friends.
A written message in the club’s registration book told its own story.
‘We love you Jimmy’ were the warm words.
Jimmy was equally complimentary.
“It was a pleasure to be involved with the girls who were made so welcome by our own boxers. Like our hard working crew, they were most obedient, mannerly and easy to work with.
“We will miss them and we are so happy that they will have fond memories to bring home with them,” said Jimmy.
As mementos of their time here, the girls were presented with membership cards and medals by the boxing club and they received club vests which they said they would wear with pride.
Callan camaraderie and goodwill were highlighted again when Andreas from Latvia who once had a spell in Callan Boxing Club, returned to re-register six years later.
“I was delighted when Andreas arrived at the door of my home and asked for uncle Jimmy, as he called me. I could not believe my eyes. Callan is home to Andreas once again after he completed his training as a mechanic in his native country.”
The Callan outfit that did brilliantly recently with three gold medals and one silver from the Michael Andrews Memorial Tournament at the National Boxing Stadium, Dublin continues to break new ground.
It would be fair to say that the club boxes above its weight and has a great record in competition thanks to their talented trinity of coaches, Jimmy the boss, John Hickey and Michael Comerford.
Although he has retired from travelling to competitions in the National Stadium and at regional clubs, Jimmy continues to help his fellow coaches at training every Tuesday and Thursday.
Jimmy said he was delighted with progress at the club. He thanked the generous people of Callan for their continued support at a church gate collection and bag pack in SuperValu and praised the business community for their ongoing help.