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In Sunshine or in Shadow By Donald McRae

Release date: 30th May, 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

List Price: £18.99
Our Price: £14.99
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Born in 1936, Gerry Storey has been a fixture on the Irish boxing scene for most of his life and, at the age of 83, he shows little sign of slowing down. “God’s been good to me,” he said in a recent interview, “because I’m still able to run around like a wee lad.”

The venerable Mr Storey has coached the Irish Boxing Team and claimed a British boxing title of his own, but he is best known as the head coach of the Holy Family boxing club and gym, located in the New Lodge district of Belfast, once the IRA’s heartland.

The club, which featured in the Daniel Day-Lewis movie, The Boxer, has, thanks to Gerry’s tirelessness, become an institution. To say he helped bridge the sectarian divide is an understatement.

Despite his Republican roots, Storey has always insisted his club would remain open to all, irrespective of their faith or background and as Donald McRae emphasises throughout In Sunshine or in Shadow, he has also been remarkably brave. It was Storey who personally spoke with paramilitary forces on either side of Belfast’s troubled divide to ensure the young boxers coming to his gym did so unharmed.

Storey’s motive was straight forward enough: to help youngsters find a way out of Northern Ireland’s bleak, often bloody surrounds by coaching teaching them how to box.

“I get a great kick out of bringing them up from level A, B, C, D right up to international status,” he said recently. “Any kid who comes in [to the club] I’ll say, there’s your target. You start at the Antrim championships, then the nationals, then you’ll box for Ireland. After that, you go to the Commonwealths, then the final stop is the Olympics. That’s your dream.”

Simple, eh? But these are not just words of a verbal motivator; Storey has backed his inspirational oratory with clear, definable actions, training world champion Barry McGuigan and Olympian-turned-photographer Hugh Russell.

Donald McRae has written two of the very best boxing-related books ever published (Dark Trade and A Man’s World), as well as the outstanding Winter Colours , a compelling account of rugby’s culture. In his latest work, McCrae has applied his effective, but nonetheless magical approach to tell us how, against a backdrop of extreme violence and murder, Gerry Storey created an oasis of peace and calm where young men could learn the noble art and arm themselves with a skill capable of guiding them out of Northern Ireland’s extended nightmare.

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