A team of Northern Ireland boxers won the Battle of the Atlantic when they took on the best fighters in Detroit and after they trading punches in some bruising bouts, they returned home with a decisive 8-3 victory.
The cross community venture, the brainchild of Ballymoney man Alan ‘Spike’ Martin, saw young boxers from across the Province arrive in Motor City as part of a newly sporting and cultural exchange.
The young Irish fighters had Bert’s Warehouse in Detroit’s Eastern Market rocking as they dominated their American opponents to win 8 bouts to 3.
Boxing legend Tommy ‘the Hit Man’ Hearn met up with the team afterwards, congratulating them on their victory and the quality of their boxing, thrilling the young fighters with stories of his illustrious career.
Hearn was the first boxer in history to win world titles in four weight divisions - welterweight, light middleweight, middleweight and light heavyweight.
He later won a super middleweight title to become the first fighter to win world titles in five weight divisions.
Spike Martin spoke about the trip: “This was a joint project between Scorpion Boxing Club, Ballymoney and St. Paul’s, Belfast and the team was represented by seven clubs from across the province and both sides of the community.
“I’m delighted with the way the entire visit went and with the way all the guys fought. This was a very strong Detroit team but our lads were superb, winning 8 bouts to 3.
Scorpion Boxing Club fighter and former national champion Kevin Donnelly (56k) was making his return to the sport after five years. He beat much fancied Devon Wilkes 2-1 after an extremely tough contest.
“Scorpion’s Karol Dlugosz (81k) ground out a 3-0 win against a seasoned Derick Miller in another tough contest.
“There were notable wins for James McGivern, St Georges BC, Dylan Duffy, Pegasus BC, Jack McGivern, St Georges BC, Conor Quinn, Clonard and Gerard Matthews from St Paul’s.
“This was a fantastic experience for these young boxers. Before the fight night we visited and trained in the world famous Kronk Gym, which was set up by legendary trainer Emanuel Steward.
“We were also delighted to get training at Superbad, Downtown Boxing, Dynamic and Windsor Boxing gyms.
“The team were invited to train at the Detroit Tigers gym and we were also brought onto the field during a Wayne State University football game which the lads loved. However, I think for everyone the highlight of the trip was getting the opportunity to meet Tommy ‘Hit Man’ Hearn.
“He made a surprise visit to our team and chatted to us about his career which was fascinating. He took so much time with all the boxers and it rounded off perfectly what was a fantastic trip.
“The entire event was such a success that wheels are now in motion to make it an annual exchange and I am already working on bringing Team Detroit to Ballymoney and Belfast next May.”