“I FEEL very old when some young lad comes in and he’d give a name. I’d say ‘is he your father?’ and he’d say it’s his grandfather! Then it strikes you that you’ve been there so long that the grandchildren were coming to the club.”
That says quite a lot about Noel Griffin’s time in Limerick boxing. For 60 years, the president of the St Francis club has given his time to the sport he loves, and it is with much pride that he reflects on how he has seen generations of families coming through the ranks.
In that time, Noel has held prominent positions in the Limerick County Board and Munster Council, where he was registrar for 15 years. He has represented Ireland as an official and team manager and he was inducted to the Irish Amateur Boxing Association hall of fame in 2004.
He has been involved with some very prominent boxers in his time, including Andy Lee, and he loves nothing better than encouraging along the next wave of youth.
“It makes you glad that you were involved, that you helped to keep these lads on the straight and narrow. You can look down and see 50 or 60 youngsters all vying for honours and that gives you a great feeling.”
Noel is unequivocal when asked why he has remained in boxing for 60 years – purely to enjoy it. To this day, he has fond memories of the young people that came through the St Francis club, which has been in operation since 1928, making it the oldest existing boxing club in the country.
He takes huge pride in being affiliated to St Francis and he has instilled that pride in so many others who have boxed under his watch.
“I never looked on it as achieving greatness or anything like that. I got great pleasure out of doing it. I gave all the time I had to it and I did it for the sheer enjoyment of it.
“You have a big responsibility and that was one thing we always taught in St Francis, to have pride in themselves and not to let the club down. Young lads were always proud to say that they boxed with St Francis.
“People would come back and with pride they’d say ‘I boxed with St Francis’. We always instilled that into them, that they could be proud that they were with St Francis.”