Irish coming to Detroit for boxing − and that’s a great thing
The boxing is part of it.
A small part.
But this is way bigger than that.
“Our organization is called ‘Bridges Beyond Boxing,'” Erik Olson, one of the organizers, said. “That’s what we do, man, we build bridges across the water.”
Earlier this summer, the organization took a group of metro Detroit boxers to Ireland for a match in Dublin. Now, 13 boxers from Ireland are coming to Detroit for the rematch, which will be held at 6 pm Sunday in Shed 3 at Eastern Market. Tickets are $25 at the door.
“We make the world a smaller place,” Olson said. “We make your contact list and your friends and family bigger; and we just use boxing to get you there.”
More:How Bridges Beyond Boxing has connected Detroit and Ireland in the best way imaginable
A friend on the other side of the world
In June, the organization sent seven boxers to Ireland — a smaller number than normal — because it was hard to raise money during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We won three and lost four,” Olson said. “But man, one was pretty dang close. I think Irish eyes were smiling on that one.”
While in Ireland, the Detroit boxers toured the “Game of Thrones” set and were trained by Irish coaches.
“The Irish style is kind of tighter pivoting, tight turns, and our kids picked up their style,” Olson said. “They got a really good international experience.”
But it was more than what they learned in the ring.
“One guy was a filmmaker and he hosted a couple of kids,” Olson said. “Both kids were interested in graphic design and into film. Now, they have a friend on the other side of the world, one of the top videographers in Ireland.”
Experiencing ‘the D’
The Irish team will arrive about 5 pm Friday and there will be a meet and greet at Thomas Magee’s Sporting House and Whiskey Bar — Olson’s bar in Eastern Market.
“They’ll meet their host families that they’re staying with,” Olson said.
A Protestant and Catholic from Ireland will be paired together, staying with an African American family.
“When we send black fighters to Belfast, they stay with Irish families, and they love it,” Olson said. “So this year the Irish boxers happen to be staying with African American families, and it’ll increase the cultural experience.”
Hopefully, by the end of the trip, the two Irish boxers will realize they are more alike than they might have thought before the trip.
“We don’t talk about it,” Olson said. “We hope it happens organically. Hopefully at the end of the weekend, they realize, ‘Oh crap, I didn’t realize you were Protestant or Catholic.’”
The Irish boxers will spend the majority of their time in Detroit.
“We don’t plan a lot of team activities,” Olson said. “We really encourage individual time with the host families. Some families might have a barbecue, some families might go fishing, some families might go to the park. I’m sure they want to see the shopping malls, that’s usually a big thing – shopping malls and pizza.”
Contact Jeff Seidel: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff.