14 September 2018
East Belfast DUP MP Gavin Robinson has called the AIBA (The Amateur International Boxing Association), to give official recognition to the NI Boxing Association, allowing boxers from Northern Ireland to compete competitively for their country.
Mr Robinson said, “This is a fundamental issue for boxers from Northern Ireland, who compete or have the potential to compete on thr world stage. They want nothing more than the chance to represent their country and for many, that means being recognised as from Northern Ireland. At present boxers who identify as Northern Irish or British, cannot compete for Team GB and ultimately, fight under the Republic of Ireland by default.
Northern Ireland is no stranger to boxing success. Sport can and does bring communities together, as was the case at the recent fight at Windsor Park, where people from across the divide came to watch our world class boxers – Carl Frampton and Paddy Barnes in our national stadium. For some aspiring boxers in clubs across Belfast and throughout Northern Ireland, they can only dream of representing the place of their birth. It is unfair, unjust and unconstitutional for both boxers and their teams that the sport is not recognised properly here in Northern Ireland. Yet its popularity continues to grow.
I have been working with NI Boxing Association (NIBA) for a number of years to aid them in their attempt to gain official recognition from the AIBA. Others such as the previous Minister for Communities, Paul Givan had also been leading on the issues, ratifying NIBA as part of the National Governing Organisation in 2016.
Engaging with NIO Minister Vara most recently, we intend to ensure Team GB are fully aware of their obligations. Alongside Westminster colleagues, we will raise the pressure and profile of this campaign.
Given the success of Northern Ireland boxing and its popularity, it is only right that our boxers deserve the right to represent their country.”