|Vincent McMahon, Director and Secretary Dick Hearns Centre|
Vincent McMahon joined the Ballina Boxing Club in the early 80s to do weight-training and became Hon. Secretary shortly afterwards. Vincent's background was in primary school teaching from which he could easily recognise the benefits of gym training. Many of the benefits of boxing are outlined here, Very few boxers win national titles, but the opportunity was there in Ballina should a credible contender join the club. Success in sport has four vital elements: Ability, Drive, Parental/Peer Support and Good Coaching. To reach the top in any discipline, in addition, one has to start while still young as Michael Carruth, Katie Taylor and Kellie Harrington did. Many people have ability but lack the drive, and it is here where those boxers owe much of their success. "Irish boxers and their mentors have done Ireland proud in getting their magnificient seven to the Tokyo Olympics of 2021," says Vincent, "and, guided by IABA High Performance Director Bernard Dunne and his coaching team Zaur, John and Dmitri, have shown the world what Irish men and ladies can do on the canvas apron."
|Ballina Boxing Club has some of the finest boxing coaches in Ireland, they themselves having excelled at the sport in the past. Joe Lavelle is currently head coach with the club, and there is a good backroom team also which includes females, and together they will make the Dick Hearns Centre viable. Dave Fleming is Chairman, Gillian Boggins is Treasurer, Shauneen Quinn is Children's Officer and Richenda Langan is coach and judge.|
The founders of the club in 1927 would be justifiably proud of achievements so far, and the life-size photo of Dick Hearns in the current gym on Mercy Road, Ballina, will always be a reminder of what a Ballina man can achieve. It is envisaged the club will relocate to the new Dick Hearns Centre at some point during the 2022/2023 season. Although Vincent's role in the boxing club is confined to administrative duties, as a former teaching primary school principal and historian, he is very conscious of the importance of role models such as Ballina native Dick Hearns whose example can be followed as closely today as almost a century ago through dedication and good coaching. The beauty of sport is that each new year brings new opportunities to compete for honours.
Regarding his role as Hon. Treasurer of Co. Mayo Boxing Board Vincent pauses before stating: "I'm glad to be of service: the position of honour was bestowed following the elections in 2018. The county has a wealth of active coaches, referees and judges who work as volunteers to develop the sport of boxing in their local communities under the umbrella of the national parent body, IABA. They are community leaders of integrity, Garda-vetted and certified to work with minors and vulnerable adults, they do a great job with limited resources but much of the credit for their good work has gone undeservedly to others in the past. The other officers on the current board are capable and honourable men of the highest integrity -- all active coaches, referees and judges drawn from each of the corners of the county -- and have created an environment of respect where Co. Mayo Boxing Board meetings are very well attended, orderly, cordial, informative, inclusive and without any personal agenda or ego to satisfy: 'ar aghaidh linn le chéile' is the new mantra and is a most welcome breath of fresh air."
"While Mayo GAA athletes yearn to wear the county jersey in McHale Park, Castlebar, the boxing community of the county will speak likewise of competing for honours on the canvas apron in the Dick Hearns Centre for many years to come. Every generation writes its own history and the Dick Hearns Centre will be a venue where future Mayo and Connacht athletes engaging in boxing and other combat sports can hone their skills on their journeys to great honours going forward. When the history of boxing in Mayo is written," says Vincent, "all the accolades gained through sport will rest with the champions, and most of those who facilitated their journeys to glory will be forgotten. But, as 17th century writer John Bunyon penned, 'You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.' So be it, as we continue to benefit from the sacrifices of those former generations who never knew us."
Vincent -- a widower since 2006 -- lives alone in Ballina and has a simple philosophy: "After I wake up each day, I ask myself what I have to do before nightfall, and I'm thankful to be still in a position to be of service to my family and to the Ballina community. My family members and grand-children visit regularly, I enjoy leisure road/rail trips, I use email and WhatsApp, meet former colleagues in Swinford for choir practice with Harmonia and meet some retired gentlemen weekly in Probus. I'm accepted as an equal by Ballina Boxing Club, and I play Bridge online with friends as far away as Argentina and Australia most evenings. I'm qualified to set up and run Bridge tournaments online and I'm a certified Bridge teacher here in Ireland: I look forward to finishing classes in Ballycastle's SuifinnWay, which were interrupted by the onset of the pandemic. Being involved with the community and serving its needs brings a lot of personal satisfaction and the contact with others helps the mental health state also. The children of the twenty-first century enjoy much better lives thanks to the labours and sacrifices of previous generations and this community spirit is still very strong in Co. Mayo: most are only too happy to serve when an opportunity presents itself. 'It is in giving that we receive' is a really true motto to live by," he confides.