Bernard Dunne quits Dubs camp to focus on boxing role

The former world professional champion is the IABA’s new high performance director

Bernard Dunne will take up his new job as high performance director with the Irish Athletic Boxing Association with immediate effect.

As a consequence, Dunne will play no further role with the backroom staff of the Dublin football team. The former professional boxing world champion spent four -and-a-half years working with manager Jim Gavin as his sports performance and lifestyle coach.

Dunne takes over the role that Billy Walsh filled before he was head-hunted by USA Boxing. Walsh contacted Dunne to wish him luck in the job as the two are now rivals.

“I am giving up an awful lot to take this job,” said Dunne. “The dream job. This will be my sole focus, my primary and sole focus.


“I’ve been part of Jim’s team for four-and-a-half years. I feel it’s been a learning experience. I loved what I was doing. I loved being involved with the players. I will deeply miss it. It has been a huge part of my life, a huge part of the success of my life.”

Dunne took an optimistic view of the road ahead for Irish boxing as the squad prepares for the ultimate goal of the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.

While Rio ended in disappointment with expected performances from Michael Conlan, Paddy Barnes and Katie Taylor falling flat, Dunne said boxing is the one Irish sport that can go into Olympic Games believing it can win medals.

Expects discipline

“This is an opportunity to build,” said the Dubliner. “We might be the only Irish sport that goes into Olympic Games with expectations of success.

“We are starting afresh,” he added putting to one side the controversies that dogged the sport when Walsh left for the USA. “We are looking to the future. We are not looking back.”

The 37-year-old was also clear that he expects discipline from his elite boxers and that they would be held accountable for their behaviour.

Irish middleweight Michael O’Reilly was sent home from Rio for a positive drugs test while Michael Conlan and Stephen Donnelly were reprimanded for betting on fights in which they were involved during the Olympic Games in Rio.

Barnes also had issues making the 49 kg limit and struggled to keep it under control going into Rio.

“I think accountability is highly important in any environment, whether it’s boxing or business,” said Dunne. “You have got to be accountable for your actions so that’s about creating an environment where our athletes know what we expect from them.”

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times