As the family of Clonoe Boxing Club’s Frank Gervin put the final touches to a fundraising gala night in his memory, they feel certain there will be one very special man looking down on them to make sure everything goes according to plan.
On 29 August, just short of exactly five months since the much loved local boxing legend lost his battle against pancreatic cancer, his heartbroken sons, daughters and wife Susan will be remembering Frank in the company of some of the top names from the sport.
Among those set to make an appearance at the Continuing the Legacy Gala Ball in the Armagh City Hotel are Coalisland’s Conrad Cummings - fresh from his stunning victory against Oscar Riojas in El Paso Texas - as well as former Olympic champion and Clonoe Boxing Club member Tommy Corr, Irish heavyweight Martin Rogan, along with GAA commentator Michael O’Muircheataigh and former BBC Apprentice star Jim Eastwood from Cookstown.
And, in this fantastic video tribute to his former coach, friend and mentor, professional middleweight boxer Cummings tells how, “At a mere nine years of age and clearly too heavy to be taken seriously, Frank did just that.”
The purpose of the Gala Ball is simple: to remember the man who, despite being small in stature, made a huge impression on the lives of those he met - from the young boys and men of Coalisland and Clonoe that he kept off the streets and provided a focus for, to the countless children he and Susan fostered and gave a loving home to over many happy years together as husband and wife.
In Frank’s memory, his family hope to raise enough money to re-develop his beloved Boxing Club, as well as generating funds and awareness of the Pancreatic Cancer Research charity which has given the Gervins support and assistance in the months following his death.
Frank’s daughter, Nuala, and her husband Declan, are among a dedicated committee which is getting ready to host what will no doubt be an emotional night for all those who loved the man who became one of the best known and highly regarded names in boxing throughout Ireland.
Nuala recalls how people travelled from all over the country to pay their respects to Frank when the news broke that he had passed away.
She says she and the rest of her family have been overwhelmed too by the support pledged to the Gala Ball and the re-development of the Boxing Club by the community of Coalisland, Clonoe and surrounding areas.
“It is nice that we have something positive to focus on”, she continues.
“It takes away from all the legal stuff around the club during Daddy’s illness which was really dragging us down. We are passionate now about getting the young ones back into training and doing exactly what Daddy would want us to do: keep the young lads off the street and into sport.
“We have a new female coach who has joined us, Katie Magee, and she will be putting a big push on getting the ladies involved in the sport. Our new season starts in September and we will be somewhere, there is no doubt about that. There will be a man watching over us all to make sure that happens.”
Nuala is keen to let the local community know that there are individual tickets available, as well as tables, for the forthcoming Gala Ball.
She says anyone who has been unable to attend on the night so far has given sponsorship to the worthy cause, and the support of the community has been “huge”.
“Nothing is ever too big for them”, Nuala told the TIMES.
“Everybody is so positive to get the club up and running. Local tradesmen have told us we can have whatever we need to get the club open again when the time comes. We are working with the Parish at the moment to secure grounds and the local hurling club, Naomh Colum Cille, has been helping us too.”
Boxing legend Amir Khan has also lent his support to the Gala event, donating a signed glove to be auctioned on the night, while the family has secured a glove and belt from Manny Pacquiao, as well as a Messi jersey and merchandise from 50 Shades of Grey which starred Northern Irish actor Jamie Dornan, whose mother died from pancreatic cancer. Jamie’s father is a leading campaigner for the Pancreatic Cancer Research charity.
Guests at the Gala Ball will also be able to snap up silks from racing legend Tony McCoy, along with a Tipperary signed jersey and a Kilkenny hurl, not to mention countless other fantastic prizes which have been donated by local people and businesses.
A payment plan for tickets is available through Paypal, details of which can be obtained by contacting the event organisers through firstname.lastname@example.org
You can keep up to date with the latest details of the fundraising night through Clonoe Boxing Club’s Facebook page. as well as the special Continuing the Legacy page set up, also on Facebook.