A BOXING duo from Ballymoney have been to the USA and visited gyms associated with some of the biggest names in the sport.
Scorpion Boxing Club coach Alan ‘Spike’ Martin and his fighter Karol Dlugosz travelled to America with a group from Belfast for the trip of a life time.
In the ring Karol had a narrow defeat but away from the boxing gyms the group also took in some of the sights including visits to Capitol Hill and the White House.
Karol Dlugosz and head coach Alan Martin had the privilege of travelling with the Ardoyne ABC to Washington DC to compete in the 6th Annual Belfast Beltway Boxing Tournament, a prestigious event which enables kids from DC to compete with their counterparts from Belfast and surrounding areas.
It was a week long trip which took in visits to the Supreme Court, Capitol Hill, Northern Ireland Consulate, the Irish Embassy and the White House.
The team was taken to the Headbangers Gym home of World Champ Lamont Peterson where they were able to watch him train and they also went to Palmer Park, Maryland and to Sugar Ray Leonard’s Gym where the weigh in for the fights was conducted.
There was ten boxers on the team and on the Saturday evening they all took to the ring with Danny Boy and the Star Spangled Banner ringing around the Grand Marriot Ballroom and they all boxed their hearts out.
Each boxed with pride and gave their all. Big Karol lost a decision 6 4 to a very talented Jon Jones III out of Sugar Rays gym a very tough fight for Karol which saw the Irish Senior Novice Champ have to dig deep way beyond his experience.
He stayed the distance and gained more valuable international experience. The team lost 6 4 overall but all could leave with their heads held high.
The competition itself is all about treating everyone as a winner and to that end every boxer was presented with a World Title Belt for their trouble. Head Coach Eanes Keenan from the Ardoyne ABC was delighted with everyone’s performance on the night and has since sent the Scorpion Club a letter thanking them for representing the team in the manner they did.
Said ‘Spike’: “On reflection the trip very nearly didn’t happen for Karol who although has lived in Ballymoney for 7 years is still a Polish citizen and Poland is not part of the Visa Wavier Scheme. When I contacted the US consulate to obtain a visa for him 3 weeks prior to the trip I was told that he couldn’t get an interview even for at least 6 months.
“We then decided to contact John Finlay in the DUP office in Ballymoney who put me in touch with Ian Paisley Jnr in Ballymena. They took Karol under their wing and a big thankyou must go to Ian’s PA Laura who made a few calls. Laura emailed me an hour later to say they had secured an interview at 9.30am the next morning. That was on Wednesday, on Friday the passport with the Visa arrived at Karol’s house.”
The Beltway Project was the brainchild of Charles Quinn and his son Manny who lives in Washington and is a cultural exchange which enables kids from 11 to 20 years from tough areas on both sides of the pond to mix and bond through sport regardless of religion colour or creed.
Added ‘Spike’: “It really is a wonderful event and something we at Scorpion ABC are very proud to have been part of. The team from Washington will be boxing in the Europa Hotel Belfast in August 17th in the eagerly anticipated return.”