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Michael Carruth Defends IABA Stance In Heated Debate Over Billy Walsh Resignation

Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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Liveline was the scene of a lengthy and colourful debate on the Billy Walsh resignation, featuring an Olympic gold medallist, a former Olympian and a respected TV analyst, the former Lord Mayor of Wexford, and Jimmy Magee.

Walsh resigned today saying that the stance of the IABA during recent contract negotiations had made it impossible for him to continue in the role.

Michael Carruth, gold medallist at the 1992 Olympics, was in an awkward position. He works as the development officer within the IABA and his brother Fergal is currently the CEO of the organisation.

He pushed the 'it's not the end of the world' doctrine.

Carruth was forced to defend the IABA against the charges of Mick Dowling and then he fell into a more heated argument with the former Mayor of Wexford and a close friend of Walsh, George Lawlor.

Carruth was at pains to point out that Walsh was a friend of his, and said he wasn't privy to the negotiations. He said that everyone was 'speculating' about the exact cause of the disagreement in the negotiations.

But he didn't rule out the possibility that it was about money, something that annoyed Walsh's friend, Lawlor.


Carruth: If they can re-persuade him to come back to the IABA then I would like him to do that but only if it's reasonable. You're all (Dowling and Lawlor) saying it's not about money. Well, maybe it is about money. Let's be honest here...

Lawlor: Absolute nonsense

Carruth: Well, that's your opinion.

Lawlor: It's absolutely not about money. It's about being treated with respect and dignity that he brought to his team and his country.



Mick Dowling criticised the IABA for the manner in which they had handled the negotiations and said that it could set Irish boxing back 25 years.


To lose Billy Walsh in a more or less an Olympic year is a total disaster. Why would we break up a winning formula just for, I wont say for a few extra euros...

If I was in charge of those negotiations I would certainly ensure that Billy Walsh would be doing that job... Billy's success in unprecedented. He's brought medals from all the major championships... If you look at the recent world championships, we brought home a gold, a silver and a bronze.

We finished fourth behind the great Cubans, the Russians and the Uzbeks. I mean that's ridiculous, that's mad for a small country like ours...

Without Billy Walsh, our organisation will be set back 25 years.

Carruth accused Dowling of exaggerating with his '25 years' claim. And he disputed Dowling's assertion that the IABA didn't do enough to keep Walsh in the country.

Mick (Dowling) is saying the IABA didn't do enough. How would Mick know? We were at a convention last month and our chairman explained the trouble with  The IABA, I believe, tried their level best with all the resources they had to keep Billy.

Dowling said he had heard from a source within the Sports Council that the two sides had more or less reached an agreement in August.

My understanding is, and I got this from the top (Carruth interjecting: did you get it from the chairman or the CEO [of the IABA]). No, I got it from the Sports Council.

Back in August, they more or less had an agreement. Three days later, a letter landed on the desk of John Treacy, saying that they were unable to ratify the agreement.

Lawlor said that the contract negotiations had drifted on for eight months. And he backed up Dowling's claim that an agreement had been reached only for the IABA to perform an about turn. And he asserted that it was a question of autonomy rather than money, echoing Walsh's claim that the agreement the IABA had put forward wouldn't allow him to do his job.

Michael is wrong to say they didn't reach the agreement. They did reach an agreement, only for the IABA to turn around three days later and produce a document which was totally different to what was agreed... Billy Walsh wasn't looking for the moon.  He wasn't looking for an extraordinary package. He was looking for something that was plain and simple and that granted him autonomy.

Jimmy Magee came on air with the warning that he had only two minutes of battery left on his phone. In the two minutes he had to work with, he addressed Billy directly in a heartfelt manner.

Ah Billy, if you're listening, don't leave. All is not lost. All is not finished... Billy Walsh, he's damn near irreplaceable.

And, then he had a suggestion. Jimmy said he himself would play the George Mitchell role in any future negotiations between the IABA and Billy Walsh.

And if I'm acceptable, and I might not be acceptable, but if I'm acceptable, I'd be more than willing to chair that discussion.

For fans of early 90s Irish politics nostalgia, this reference from RTE's Pat McGrath was top notch.

Listen to the discussion.

Read more: Billy Walsh Resigns As Irish Boxing High Performance Coach - Here's His Statement






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