Like many of those now living in Ratoath, Co. Meath, Fergus O’Riordan is a native of Dublin, but is very glad he made the move to Ratoath thirteen years ago. During that time the population of Ratoath has grown steadily from a small community of just 1,000 20 years ago to the vibrant small town that is home to almost 11,000 people today.
“Ratoath is a great place to live,” says Fergus, “we have pubs, restaurants and a busy community centre, but what really makes it unique is our theatre venue, and of course, the Golden Gloves Boxing Club! There’s still a great village feel to the place and there’s a fantastic community spirit.”
Fergus is secretary and original founder, with the help of others, of the Golden Gloves Boxing Club which was established almost seven years ago. “I’ve always had a general interest in sport and like to be involved in the community. When I put the idea out there, a few guys that were involved in karate decided to get on board and loaned us some equipment, like punch bags, to get started.”
Fergus advertised in the local newspaper for coaches and was delighted to be contacted by existing coaches/ ex boxers including someone who had previously boxed for Ireland. To promote their new club, Fergus then organised a leaflet drop to about 4,000 homes in the area. He was contacted by 30-40 people who were interested in joining up their sons and the rest is history!
Golden Gloves Boxing Club has been supported by the Tesco Community Fund three times in recent years. “The support from Tesco in Ratoath has made a huge difference to us and we are very grateful for it,” says Fergus. “Funds received have gone towards the purchase of gear for the club – sports bags, tracksuits, gloves and equipment. We also fund trips to the UK for shows and tournaments when required,” explains Fergus. “We want to support our athletes financially to help them reach their full potential.”
Given its very recent origins, the club has already seen considerable success. “We have four All-Ireland Champions who are all competing at international level representing Ireland. They are outperforming themselves every year.” Aged just 13-15, Gavin, TJ, Lee and Alisha are all showing huge promise and are the current stars of the club along with a number of other younger up and coming boxers.
The club currently has about 40 members. Although mostly boys, they have a few girls too. “It’s great to see some interest from the girls, although I expect they will continue to be the minority, as it’s not a sport that typically appeals to girls generally,” says Fergus.
“Unfortunately, we’re not in a position to take in many new members due to the limitations of our facilities. Our current location is only temporary and we expect it will not be available to us for much longer, so we’re hoping to find a bigger and more permanent home for the club soon,” he explains. Their existing facility is also too small to take in senior members. “We have one ring, but we need a second to both expand our membership and open it up to more senior boxers.”
Ratoath Golden Gloves Boxing Club is a reflection of the thriving community in Ratoath and is just one of the many organisations who have benefitted from the Tesco Community Fund in the area. Celebrating 15 years in the Ratoath community, Tesco has supported 465 local projects in Meath to date donating over €124,000 since the Fund began.