Locals upset Champion boxer Katelynn Phelan forced to train outdoors on the Curragh after gym shut
Newly crowned World boxing champion Katelynn Phelan has been forced to train outdoors on the Curragh of Kildare after being locked out of her local club in Kildare.
Founded by her father Paddy 12 years ago, St Brigid’s Boxing club has been using a unit in the old Black and Decker factory in the Enterprise centre in Kildare town.
Over the years they transformed it into a modern boxing gym installing male and female changing rooms and toilets.
However, they now find themselves without a home or access to their equipment after the lock on the door of the club was changed.
The club didn’t pay any rent for the unit which has been owned by three different landlords including NAMA over the last decade.
There is ongoing discussion between the current landlord, Kildare County Council, and the club to resolve the impasse which ironically came to a head on the weekend 20-year-old Katelynn created history by claiming the vacant WBF and WIBA welterweight world belts as well as the WBC World Youth belt.
When they went to the club on Monday after their return from Germany, they discovered the locks had been changed.
Since the club’s foundation in 2008 they have played an important social role in the town by providing a healthy recreational outlet for youngsters.
Parents are upset that their kids can no longer use the facilities.
“We are all very concerned about what has happened because the club did such fantastic work and we want it resolved as soon as possible,” said one parent.
According to sources, behind the scenes negotiations have been ongoing for months to find a new premises for the club.
It is understood that the landlord was willing to provide a smaller unit rent free for ten years, but the club wanted reassurances about the long-term viability of the deal.
Kildare County Council has been involved in the discussions to overcome the obstacles which is holding up a deal been hammered out.
Like the majority of Irish boxing clubs St Brigid’s struggle financially. They receive no direct subvention from either the Government or the Irish Athletic Boxing Association.
The Covid-19 restrictions has badly hit amateur boxing clubs throughout as the majority struggle of survive financially and there are concerns about their survival in the post pandemic era.
Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 St Brigid’s had 120 active members and while they were charged €2 per session nobody got turned away if they were unable to pay.
From a practical point of view training outdoors on the Curragh is problematic during the winter months.
“It’s dark so early it not practical for the kids to come during the week and of course, it is weather dependent as well. We’re just hoping the issue can be resolved as soon as possible,” said a club source.
Katelynn had a glittering amateur career winning Irish titles and championship medals abroad. Her older brother Alan is also a professional fighter.
Even though her fellow World champion Katie Taylor is the highest paid female fighter in combat sport, the majority of female professional fighters earn a pittance particularly at the start of their careers.
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