Is this how we are going to let Irish boxing treat 12 year old girls….

Since last Friday night (May 17th) Tullow boxing club’s website has been hit 35,000 times. 35,000 times in 48 hours. A 12 year old girl named Chloe Black is the reason for the massive interest.

Chloe Black was due to fight in the National Stadium for a national title in the 45 kilogram weight category for girls. A couple of hours before she was due to fight in the event, with boxing already underway Tullow Boxing club and coaches Anthony Abbey and Levina Kavanagh were summoned before the IABA officials and told Chloe was not eligible to fight.

The Reason? – Chloe also competes in Muay Thai with Carlow Muay Thai club. Another combat sport. Chloe or Tullow Boxing club have never hidden this fact. In fact the two clubs get on quite well often cross posting congratulations when athletes in either club have some success.

On Thursday last the IABA issued a reminder on their website about it’s rule on boxers competing and being members of other sports. In a nutshell competing in other combat sports is banned. The statement does say it is looking at relaxing the rule for pre-teens. Obviously not for 12 year old Chloe Black.

AIBA Ireland

While Irish boxing takes its cues from the world body AIBA obviously the timing of the above release by the IABA is what I question. The national championships were on the next day. If the IABA had a problem with Chloe Black or anyone else for that matter they should have informed the club through official channels and opened a proper investigation.

Tullow boxing club are not in much doubt that the reminder was issued by the IABA on Thursday because of Chloe Black and maybe 1  or 2 other athletes competing at the national championships over the weekend.

Tullow Boxing Club Coach Anthony Abbey and coach to Chloe Black was kind enough to run me through the sequence of events, cowardly behaviour and downright horrible treatment of this young athlete.

Here is the transcript of our conversation. Anthony’s answers are in Bold and italics.

So tell me Anthony Let’s start with a background on how Chloe got into boxing?

Chloe only started combat sports because she was getting bullied in school. Her father brought her first into the Muay Thai club in Carlow. She came out of her shell. Much more confident in herself. In February 2018 she came over to Tullow boxing club because I was a member of Carlow Muay Thai myself. So I know the lads there myself.

So they brought Chloe over to spar and that and Chloe asked could she box with us. So we got her registered and the whole lot. So ever since February of last year she has boxed with Tullow boxing club.

So when they were doing the registration, if they (IABA) had a problem with other sports did they not raise a red flag then?

No. Not a thing. We got a form and Chloe had to fill it out and she had to get a medical done and everything and we sent it away to the Leinster Council.

So Chloe is obviously good and this must be at least part of the issue?

Chloe is good. She is very good.

OK so let’s move to the the lead up of her fight last Friday. What was the sequence of events?

She boxed in the quarter finals and then boxed in the semi- finals and qualified for the Final on Friday. The quarter final and semi finals were a couple of weeks ago.

So again there were no red flags raised by the IABA when she won her quarter final or her semi – final?

Nothing. Not a thing.

Where did the quarters and semis take place?. In the home clubs or someplace like that?

No.No. Everything was ran in the National stadium.

So She has boxed and she has won in the national stadium two weeks ago and there is no problem?

yeah..yeah..Look she has boxed and won in the National Stadium last year as well and she won the Irish title. She won two Leinster titles as well and she has won three Michael Andrews titles in the National Stadium.

Obviously she is getting a bit of profile because she is good. would I be right in saying that?

Oh you would yeah.

Take me through this…I am sure you have had loads of kids now and in the past that are doing kickboxing, Muay Thai or whatever they are doing. Has this never raised it’s head before?

It has never, never raised it’s head before…not until now. This is what they are trying to tell us. That someone complained. We know for a fact her opponent or opponents coaches didn’t complain as they have messaged us privately

This is what happened.

Chloe went up to Dublin on Friday morning at 8 am and got weighed in. Then went back to home back down to Bagnelstown. Then went back up to the boxing stadium at 5 o’clock that evening. So thats up…down and back up again on Friday. No Complaint. They let her do this.

Then they done the parade in the stadium. She was in the parade. she was standing outside the ring when the national anthem and all was being played. it was lovely and all that.

Boxing started at 6 o’clock, still not a thing about it…then 7 o’clock Myself and Levina another coach were called up to the top table.

” Tullow boxing club coaches up to the Top Table please”

At this stage we are talking about very shortly before Chloe is due to box are we?

Probably 90 minutes before she was due to fight.

So when you say the Top table. Who’s the top table?

The IABA. When we went up there was only one man left there to deal with it. He said ” Look they’re all gone and left me on my own to do this” and then he said you have seen the post about other combat sports that was put on the website on Thursday?

And you hadn’t seen it at all or knew anything about it at all ?

I told him I hadn’t seen and knew nothing about it whatsoever. He said well we all know Chloe is doing the Muay Thai and we all know how good she is. We got a complaint with pictures of Chloe out in different countries getting medals. She can’t box in the Final.

I just lost the head. Myself and Levina kept at him and at him. The man was left on his own. I don’t want to name any names…but kept saying sorry…but he didn’t know what to say to us.

Chloe’s Dad then rang me and asked me whats going on. Look it’s not looking good she’s not gonna be able to fight. Then the guy at the top table says can you give me a couple of minutes I’m ringing somebody. He rang whoever he rang and came back to me and said give me 20 minutes.

So I went over to Chloe and said It’s not looking good but he’s making a phone call.

I went back 20 minutes later. Still no word back. I said look I am giving you 5 more minutes – I am not putting the girl through this any longer. I am getting the book and leaving.

The next thing he just got me by the shoulders and said Stand there for a minute don’t go yet.

15 minutes – so about 40 minutes before she was due to fight – he got confirmation that she was allowed to fight. I was delighted I went over told her she was fighting and tried to get her head around everything that just went on and back in to preparing for the fight.

15 minutes after that we were just about to get her ready. Then I got called over again to the head table. The main lads in the boxing stadium were waiting for us. They asked up stairs to the conference room. Then they told us They can’t let her fight in the final.

They had some form there then that they said Chloe needs to sign if she ever wants to fight in Europe or something….

If she ever wanted to fight in Europe?

Yeah something like that…I can’t remember exactly the form… The other coach has it.

Tell me if you had signed it there and then would they have let her fight?

No..No…What they are saying is you have to be out of the other sport 12 months and you have to sign a form to say you are out of it 12 months before you are allowed to fight.

So basically you are banned from joining a boxing club really…what’s the point joining one if you can’t fight.

Yeah..yeah that’s it.

When I wrote about this on Thursday I was writing about it from the adult angle. Thinking that was crazy. This is absolutely a bonkers rule to apply to kids surely?.

Yeah and she is absolutely heartbroken.

So I am sure since this all happened you have had a look at the statement they put up on the website. Reading it they even mention in it that they are looking to relax the rule for pre-teens. They had enough wriggle room in it it to let her fight ( if they wanted to) don’t you think?

She should have been allowed to fight. Without naming names I have been on to numbers and numbers of people since it happened. Former members who were high up in the IABA have rang me. Loads of people in the boxing community have rang me and all of them are saying it was wrong what the IABA did to Chloe.

What do Tullow Boxing Club want to happen?

We want a couple of things at this stage. We are organising a petition which will be out tomorrow on the Tullow Boxing club website and Facebook page that looks to get rid of this rule up to at least the age of 16. Kids try out different sports when they are young. We should be encouraging them to try out different sports!!

Specifically what they want in addition to the above petition is for Chloe to be announced as Joint Irish champion or a re-match scheduled.

And of course there was one final Insult…….

I demanded our money back for the family and all the kids that went up to support her. I demanded that money back for them. We went to the door and there was an argument at the door. The man only wanted to hand half the money back.

I said are you fucking kidding me like. the girl is here begging to fight and you won’t let her. She was in bits. He was just pure ignorant. No compassion whatsoever. Levina went back into the head table and demanded one of the come out and talk your man into giving us our money back. Chloe and her mother ended up breaking down crying at that stage..It was just too much…

It was completely emotional for all of us and then to be treated like that…well sure they broke down…and then eventually they did give us our money back.


Many of you reading this will have a similiar story to tell from some other sporting organisation in this country. Maybe it is the GAA. Maybe it’s the FAI. Maybe it’s another organisation.

The point is that we are all partly to blame if we don’t put pressure on organisations that treat people like this. If we sit back and let the IABA brush this sorry episode under the carpet.

They champion this archaic rules not for the safety of children but to protect the Safety of themselves and their Turf.

This boxing rule is targeting kids. Making them choose one sport over another sport when they are still learning and developing skills. It needs to go. You need to be part of the drive to get rid of it. Maybe your child will be next.

The Irish Amateur Boxing Association of Ireland are betting that you won’t be though…

To contact Tullow Boxing club to offer support for their petition Click here and leave a message on their facebook page.

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