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boxing KO Blow for Ireland's Olympics boxers as Dean Gardiner quits four months ahead of qualifiers


Dean Gardiner has hung up his gloves

Dean Gardiner has hung up his gloves

Dean Gardiner has hung up his gloves

DEAN Gardiner has quit boxing less than four months ahead of the European Olympic qualifier tournament in London.

The Clonmel super-heavyweight was two wins away from securing a place at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics next summer.

His decision is another body blow to the sport which is reeling from the impact of Covid-19 as well as coping with an internal power struggle within the organisation between the Board of Directors and the rest of the organisation.

The 32-year-old was in the last 16 of the postponed Olympic qualifier but has opted out of the sport for personal reasons.

According to a statement from his club coach Martin Fennessy the cancellation of the National Elite championships which were due to the held this month and the overall uncertainty around when amateur boxing can resume had prompted the decision.

The European Olympic qualifier is due to resume at the Copper Box Arena at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on April 22. But with the city in lockdown there are fresh doubts over whether this timetable can be adhered too.

Aside from the uncertainty over when boxing can resume Gardiner’s personal circumstances has changed in the last six months and he is now in full-time education according to Fennessy.

“Dean returned to full-time education last September doing a degree in business studies, as planned, thinking that Tokyo 2020 Games would have been completed.

"Dean and his girlfriend Nastasha had a bouncing boy Michael last year.

“So, he had a lot of life changes to juggle with ten to 12 training sessions per week – some in Dublin. There are only so many hours in a day. Dean made his decision on New Year’s Eve after weighing up all his options.”

Gardiner, known affectionately in boxing circles as 'Breakfast’ has been Ireland’s outstanding super heavyweight since the retirement of his Clonmel club mate Con Sheehan.

He won four Irish Elite titles and represented Ireland at European Union, European Games, European Championships and World Championships.

Ireland will be unable to nominate a replacement for the European qualifier.

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There will be another opportunity for an Irish super heavyweight to qualify at a proposed world qualifier event which is likely to be held in Tokyo at the start of the summer.

But there is growing uncertainty over whether the rescheduled Games will go ahead as planned next July. The new variant of the Covid-19 virus, thought to be 70 percent more transmissible, has now been detected in Japan.

The country is believed to be on the verge of declaring state of emergency after reporting a record 5,307 daily cases yesterday. No vaccine has been approved for use yet in Japan.

Meanwhile, veteran IOC member Richard Pound has raised eyebrows by suggesting that prioritising athletes for the vaccine would be the ‘most realistic way’ of ensuring the Games takes place.

He denied that the proposal would cause a public outcry.

“It’s a decision for each country to take and there will be people saying that they are jumping the queue, but I think it is the most realistic way of it (the Games) going ahead,” the Canadian told Sky News.

Meanwhile, in the US the death has occurred of Joey Winters, whose boxing company Times Square Boxing managed the career of Ireland’s Joe Ward. A former amateur and professional fighter and later a successful businessman on Long Island, the 54-year-old died on Tuesday from Covid-19.

Following a disastrous start of his professional career when he damaged his knee and had to retire inured from his first fight Ward returned to the ring before Christmas winning two low profile fights in Mexico.

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