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Jerry & Belfast Beltway Project score big

King George native, and Golden Gloves boxing athlete Paul Jerry has a whole new perspective on life now that he has experienced the culture of Northern Ireland.

Most recently, a Washington, D.C. area delegation of boxers, the Belfast Beltway Boxing Project, and coaches that featured Jerry and his father and personal coach, Anthony Murrill, were given an opportunity to box and tour Belfast Northern Ireland. The mission for the American team was

two-fold: After showcasing the talents of 10 American boxers in a front of a partisan Irish crowd, the team got a true taste of what the Northern Irish were all about by touring their landmarks, and country sides.

Although his rematch with Irish boxer Joe Scullian ended in a loss, the memories from his four-day trip are priceless. Earlier, in April 2011, Jerry left no question in the judges’ minds after soundly defeated Scullian in three action packed rounds. In the first round, Jerry dominated his Irish counterpart with an array of jabs, and body shots.

However, in the second round after Scullian got his second wind, the fight took on a whole new character. While Jerry paced himself with a select group of punches, Scullian rallied using the smaller ring size to his advantage to hit Jerry at every given opportunity.

The final round was reminiscent of the second round, with both fighters scoring the same number of punches; however, the judges ruled the fight in favor Scullian by three points. “He could have knocked him out in the first round, but because of his ambassadorship instincts, and his loving ways, Paul didn’t,” Murrill said while reflecting on the fight. “When you’re out of the country, you have to remember that you’re an ambassador—and more importantly, why they want you there.”

The Scullian-Jerry rematch was voted by the panel of judges as the second best fight of the night. “Once the fight was over, I knew Paul had given them a good show,” Murrill said. “I told Paul, we’re here to win, but it’s also entertainment. This is not the Olympics, this is about ambassadorship—breaking barriers, building futures, and unifying young people.”

In less than 12 weeks, the fifth annual Belfast Beltway Boxing Classic will once again present another clash between Northern Ireland and boxers from the Washington, D.C. area. While its unsure whether Jerry will have an opportunity to train and take time from his classes at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, it’s a sure bet that both fighters are hungry for a third match. For the time being, both stand at the crossroads of redemption with one win a piece.
American and Irish boxing philosophies contrast; whereas, the Irish are prone to push, punch and move forward, Americans use a variety of punch and move tactics.

Before and after the fights, the team found time to tour Belfast. During a tour of the fenced in streets that separated Catholics and Protestants, Murrill said members of an Irish gang aggressively approached Jerry and a member of the American coaching staff. “When a gang featuring three men saw us videotaping, they ran up to us and inquired why were filming their kids,” Murrill said. “He later said we don’t allow outsiders in here; it’s either you’re in or out.” Moments later, after a brief international exchange of dialogue, both groups reached an understanding, and Americans were allowed to continue filming, and interacting with the towns people.

Boxing is the only non-sectarian sport in Ireland. Essentially, it is the only sport where Catholic and Protestant fighters are allowed to box on a team or against each other.

After witnessing the limited growth development in Irish schools in comparison to American education, Jerry has a whole new respect for Irish culture, and a great appreciation for the opportunities that have been afforded to him.  “I don’t take anything for granted now,” Jerry said. “These kids graduate at 16 years old, and due to the expense of college, they go straight into the labor force. Sadly, for many Irish youth, boxing is their only way out.”

Thanks to the efforts of Belfast Beltway Boxing Project director Patty Gunn, the team was provided lodging at the Europa Hotel Belfast. From eating four course meals at the finest restaurants, to touring the U.S. Embassy, the team received a wealth of memories to last them a lifetime.

Leonard Banks
Sports editor

 

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