NI boxer ‘willing to live apart from other athletes’ at Commonwealth Games

Conor Wallace
Conor Wallace

A champion boxer is willing to live apart from other athletes in a bid to be reinstated to Northern Ireland’s Commonwealth Games team, the High Court heard on Tuesday.

Conor Wallace’s barrister indicated he would make separate accommodation arrangements if it meant being able to compete in Australia next month.

Ronan Lavery QC said: “The boxers have already gone to Brisbane and at the minute he is missing sparring events and training events.

“He’s already indicated that he’s prepared to stay off the village.”

The Newry fighter has commenced legal action over his deselection by the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council.

He is seeking an order reversing the decision taken earlier this month to drop him from the team heading to the Gold Coast.

At the time police said they were investigating a complaint against a 21-year-old from the Newry area.

Mr Wallace denies any wrongdoing and has not been arrested or questioned.

An Ulster light-heavyweight amateur champion, he gained further recognition after working with UFC Superstar Conor McGregor at a 2016 training camp in America.

Injunction proceedings issued against the Council and the Irish Athletic Boxing Association were originally put on hold amid attempts to mediate a resolution.

But in court on Tuesday uncertainty was expressed over the type of process and whether any outcome would be binding.

Mr Lavery expressed doubts about another potential option of going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport - an international body which sits in Lausanne, Switzerland, as well as New York and Sydney.

Contending that a determination should instead be made by the High Court, he told Mr Justice Maguire: “There’s no indication of what exactly the issues are.

“It hasn’t been canvassed in correspondence what the real difficulties are, and in those circumstances there’s no alternative but we have to ask the court for an urgent remedy.”

But a barrister for the NI Commonweath Games Council insisted Mr Wallace signed a contractual agreement which should now be examined in a different forum.

“He entered into it with his eyes open,” counsel said.

“This court shouldn’t be asked to referee what is a matter for resolution by arbitration.”

Adjourning the case again, the judge pointed out that any failure to arbitrate in the meantime may be noted.