Sadie Duffy gave a big role to the International Boxing Association

Buncrana boxing official Sadie Duffy has become one of only four women in the world to qualify as an International Technical Official (ITO).

The Illies Golden Gloves clubwoman – who has been a renowned referee and judge since the late 1990s – received the prestigious nomination from the International Boxing Association (IBA).

Duffy refereed Katie Taylor’s first competitive fight, against Alanna Audley, in 2001 at the National Stadium.

“It’s a great honour,” Duffy told Donegal Live. “I can’t wait to be there. I was never going to be a referee and judge forever.

“It’s an exciting role and it covers a wide range of jobs.”

The IBA ITO Panel performs a variety of roles at major championships such as Assistant Technical Delegate, Draw Commissioner, Ringside Physician, IBA Cup Technician, Referee and Assessing Judge, Referee and Judges Coordinator, Observer and equipment manager.

Duffy’s expertise as a long-time referee and judge on the international stage will likely see her selected for a role in that sector.

The sport has been under siege in recent years with all 36 referees and judges from the Rio 2016 Olympics barred from the subsequent Olympics in Tokyo. A subsequent investigation, led by Professor Richard McLaren, revealed “corruption, bribery and manipulation of sports results”.

Controversial fights that were investigated by the McLaren team included Michael Conlan’s bantamweight quarter-final loss to Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin.

The sport has since been ordered to put its house in order with the threat of exclusion from the Olympics hanging dangerously.

“Now is a good time to get involved like this,” Duffy said. Four other women are involved and we hope we can help encourage more women to get involved as referees and judges.

“The fact that we have made this crossover will open up an opportunity for two-star level referees and judges to be promoted to three-star. Although there have been female ITO appointees before, there has never been female arbitrator and evaluating judge.

“I got the instructor and evaluator qualifications. I can make evaluations of active referees and judges, giving them feedback. It will be a question of helping them and correcting any minor errors to make them better.

“Overall, it’s about ensuring smooth operation and efficiency.”

Ramona Manuela from Romania, Tsogina Tsogi from Mongolia and Terezie Krejbychová from the Czech Republic were also nominated while Curragh Boxing Club’s Dermot McDermott earned the same qualification.

“It’s absolutely brilliant for Ireland to have two of us,” Duffy said.

Duffy was named Outstanding Referee/Judge at the IBA Women’s World Championships in Istanbul.

Duffy qualified as a referee in 1997 and has officiated at many world tournaments, including last year’s Men’s World Championships in Belgrade in October.

Duffy frequently officiates at EUBC tournaments and at the senior elite level in confederations around the world.

She will continue to fulfill her role as referee and judge at the local level for the time being. Indeed, she was at Letterkenny Boxing Club on Tuesday night to officiate at the Donegal Novice Championships.

“Depending on how much time I have, it’s something I like to do,” she said. “It takes time and dedication, but you have to give it if you want to do it right. There’s no doubt that getting people to engage in the current climate is difficult, but I love doing it and encourage as many people as possible to give it a shot.

“I can continue to do that for the foreseeable future at the grassroots level anyway.”

Duffy became a three-star referee and judge in 2014 and completed an instructor course in Assisi, Italy last month.

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