DERRY’s boxing fraternity and hundreds of mourners gathered to pay their respects to one of the city’s finest and longest serving amateur boxing coaches, Michael (Mickey) Glackin who was laid to rest at St Eugene’s Cathedral this morning (Monday).
The Rosemount native, who died suddenly at his home in Aberfoyle Crescent on Saturday, aged 82, was synonymous with boxing in the city and instrumental in forging the careers of some of Derry’s best amateur talents during decades of tireless work in the local community.
Past and present members of his beloved St Mary’s Amateur Boxing Club formed a poignant guard of honour as the funeral procession made its way to the City Cemetery with representatives from amateur clubs across the city turning out to pay their respects.
Former world middleweight title challenger, John Duddy, ex-European lightweight champion, Charlie Nash, former European light-welterweight champion, Paul McCloskey and former Irish and IBF Inter-Continental champion, Eamonn O’Kane were among those who led tributes to the highly respected coach who dedicated his life to the sport.
Proud recipient of the prestigious Sports Volunteer of the Year award at the 2016 ‘Derry Journal People of the Year’ awards, Mickey was an inspiration and mentor to many young boxers in the north west and undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the boxing community and local sports scene.
Retired professional boxer, Duddy, commenting from his home in New York City, said a large piece of Derry’s boxing history had passed on with Mickey, claiming it was ‘an end of an era’.
“I always had a lot of time for Mickey,” he said. “Since I was a young age, he always gave me a lot of time.
“Mickey was always very positive. It’s just very sad to hear. He was such a clean-living man, a healthy man who always looked after himself.
“He was very sharp-witted, had great humour and it was just very sad to hear of his passing. It’s a big piece of Derry city boxing history which has passed on.
“He was involved in everything from the ground up. My heart and prayers are with his family. It’s the end of an era. He was one of the top boxing trainers in Derry city.”
Charlie Nash, who crossed paths regularly with Mickey as a fellow trainer, described him as a ‘friendly face’ and responsible for producing some of the best boxers to emerge from Derry - an endless list which included the likes of Gerry and Neil Duddy, Michael McGlinchey, his son, John Glackin and more recently, Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, Sean McGlinchey, Blaine Dobbins and his grandsons, Marc and Michael McLaughlin.
“He was a very, very good coach,” said Nash. “He was well liked and well respected and he produced some of the best boxers to come out of Derry.
“I would say he’s left a very, very good legacy. He spent his life in boxing. His life revolved around the sport and he was a lovely man as well. He was very easy to get along with and very friendly. I respected him somuch.”
Former light-welterweight world title contender, Paul ‘Dudie’ McCloskey said Mickey’s passing marked ‘a sad day for amateur boxing in Derry and throughout the country and, more importantly, for his own family.
“Mickey was a gentleman inside and outside of boxing and he was so enthusiastic, especially with regards to his own boxers. Any time I saw Mickey he always had a good input to whatever was being discussed. He knew his boxing inside out. He will be sadly missed.”
Former IBF Inter-Continental middleweight and 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Eamonn O’Kane also paid his respects.
“It’s sad news that Mickey has passed as he was a great character of Derry and Irish boxing,” he said. “He knew his boxing and when he gave advice you listened and took it on board!”
Emotional, fellow St Mary’s ABC coach, Michael McGlinchey also paid a heartfelt tribute to his ‘mentor’ and ‘best friend’.
“Mickey Glackin has been involved in the world of boxing for over 60 years, fighting as a boxer himself both as an amateur and professional,” he said.
“Mickey then turned his attention to the youth of Derry and began his long association with the amateur boxing ranks, training out of Fairview ABC and Rosemount ABC, and lastly his beloved St Mary’s ABC.
“I first met Mickey as a 10 year-old boy in the Rosemount Club, 48 years ago, and from then until now Mickey was my coach, friend and mentor and my life was truly a better one for having him in it.
“Over the years Mickey trained some great fighters. His first All Ireland champions were his son, John Glackin, Gerry Duddy and Neil Duddy and he had senior title winners as well as international winners.
“I teamed up with Mickey 35 years ago and he taught me the skills I needed to become a judge and a coach.
“We went on to produce champions, the first being my son, Michael McGlinchey. All Irelands followed with Sean Wrench who boxed in the English championships, then my son, Sean McGlinchey and Mickey’s grandson, Marc McLaughlin became All Ireland champions. His latest prospect was his grandson, Michael McLaughlin.
“Although Mickey would say it’s not all about champions, boxing was about respect discipline and sportsmanship.
“Mickey was a devoted coach right up until the day he died. He was in the gym every day, gloves on, hitting the bags or in the ring with the pads.
“Mickey will be remembered by his cheeky smile his wit, chewing gum and not spending a penny if he didn’t have to,” he laughed.
“Derry boxing has lost a great sportsman and coach and I’ve truly lost my best friend.”
Mickey served as a former Vice President of the Co. Derry Boxing Board and was a past member of the Ulster Boxing Council. Derry Boxing Board President, Eugene Duffy, who counted Michael as a valued friend, said it was a ‘very sad day for Co. Derry boxing, for Ulster boxing and for amateur boxing across Ireland’.
“Mickey was involved in the sport for over 60 years. He was the head coach of Rosemount ABC many years ago, Fairview BC and later years in St Mary’s.
“He trained Gerry and Neil Duddy to international honours and was a very amicable man, always anxious to help the youth in the community. His legacy will live on but he will be badly missed in the community. He was a very good friend of mine. He was very easy going and had high skills as a boxing coach.”
Former amateur boxer, Robert Whiteside, who boxed under Mickey at Fairview ABC in Clyde Street from an 11 year-old and who is now coach at Star of the Sea ABC in Eglinton, says he wasn’t just a top boxing coach but also a loyal friend.
“I joined the boxing club from I was 11 years old so I’ve known him not just as a coach but a real personal friend as well. He will be sadly missed not just in the boxing community but also in general as he was just a lovely person.
“When I went into coaching myself he was the first person I would phone for advice. He was very knowledgeable.”
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, Sean McGlinchey, who Mickey helped coach to eight national titles, also paid his respects, claiming Michael was more than a coach but a true family friend.
“He was a quiet man. He would always be in the background, listening and taking everything in and would only talk when he needed to talk.
“He wasn’t just a boxing coach to us but a long time family friend. He’s helped our family in loads of different ways. If he could help you out he would.
"Even last week he was offering to give my granda a lift to the doctors and giving off because he was getting a taxi. That was the kind of him.
“There’s many people in Derry that can say Mickey Glackin helped them out through one way or another through boxing or whatever else.”
Over the past 40 years and right up until his sad passing at the weekend, Mickey continued to mentor countless young people and work tirelessly to promote the Derry boxing scene locally and nationally with his latest prospect being his grandson, Michael.
Another grandson, Marc, who was a hugely successful amateur himself, said simply, ‘they don’t make them like my granda anymore.’
“I’m not sure how to put into words about how great of a man he was and how much he done for, not only the boxing community, but so many others. He was a caring, loving and loyal man. He wasn’t just my grandfather, he was my best friend and my idol.”
Husband to his beloved wife, Ethna, father to John, Siobhan and Sharon, Mickey will forever be remembered for his service to the sport of boxing as he leaves behind a remarkable legacy.
Rest in peace