Kenny Egan: 'I'm sorry'
Olympic hero Egan repentant on return from New York after being caught in 'media circus'
There is a quote from Kenny Egan on the wall of the High Performance gym on South Circular Road that reads: "It's okay to make mistakes, so long as you learn from them."
Yesterday, the Olympic silver medalist began the process of putting that philosophy into practice as he arrived home on an early morning flight from New York and went straight into emergency conference at the Institute of Sport. Egan met Gary Keegan, Billy Walsh and sports psychologist, Gerry Hussey within 90 minutes of a 5am touchdown from JFK.
Afterwards, a statement was released on the boxer's behalf in which Egan took full responsibility for the media circus that followed his controversial non-appearance at last Friday night's Ireland-USA boxing international at the National Stadium and, subsequently, some unwise messages put up on the social networking site 'Twitter' while in America.
The statement confirmed that Egan has withdrawn from the card for the Bernard Dunne world title fight at the O2 Arena on March 21. No date has been put on the Neilstown fighter's likely return to the ring, although a possibility must be the multi-nations tournament in Turkey next month at which an Irish team will compete.
The full text of the statement read: "Kenny wishes to express his sincerest apologies to everyone and in particular those people that have been very supportive of him both through his journey to the Olympic final in Beijing and after the Games.
"He would also like to apologise to his mother and family for all the media attention that his success has brought to their doors. Kenny knows he has largely fed the media commentary and wishes to hold his hands up and again apologise to all involved. He has found dealing with the success and the new-found fame it brings very challenging and he says himself that he hasn't handled it appropriately. He has put himself out there in 'celebrity world' and got caught up in it.
"He would like to apologise to his team-mates, coaches and support staff in the High Performance programme and to the Irish Amateur Boxing Association and their President, Mr Dominic O'Rourke, for letting them down by not turning up to compete in the recent international against America. Kenny, while trying to please everybody, left himself open to all sorts of requests, leaving him in a position where he could not meet his commitments.
"He has made a decision not to box on the Bernard Dunne world title fight bill because he is not in condition to compete at this point. Kenny wanted to apologise to Brian Peters for any inconvenience this will cause and wishes Bernard the very best in his title fight.
"Kenny has to get back to basics and doing what he knows best -- hard work and real commitment in a place that he loves, Irish boxing, the gym, the ring, the international arena among his team-mates."
Keegan said the priority is to get Egan back into an environment he can trust. He will head to a High Performance training camp in Belfast this weekend and the intention is to cocoon him from the kind of media glare that seemed to trigger last week's sudden trek across the Atlantic.
Egan stayed in the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd Street while in New York, uncontactable to friends, family and the High Performance support staff with whom he had worked so closely in the build-up to Beijing. Indeed, his only contact with home was a series of bizarre messages posted on his 'Twitter' page, which has now been closed down.
Keegan yesterday expressed the relief of all concerned that he had returned in relatively good stead, observing: "The fundamental that Kenny needs back in his life right now is clarity of thought and that's what we'll be focusing on over the next four to six weeks.
"There'll be no more media or commercial engagements in that time and his agent agrees with this approach. Kenny just needs to knuckle down and work. We will try to take all outside influences out of his life."
Egan has, I understand, even changed the SIM card in his mobile phone to guard against future invasions of privacy.
Keegan revealed: "The only (way) we can resolve this is maybe to look at ourselves. Part of the problem is that the High Performance programme provided support and structure in Kenny's life for the last six or seven years. Then, suddenly, he was dealing with this full-on spotlight. Any of us would struggle in that environment.
"You go from relative obscurity to achieving your dream at 27. All that support and structure was now virtually taken away. And to think that he could just slip back into the mindset of the High Performance programme in a short space of time was probably a bit naive of us.
"He has found things pretty difficult, including the reaction of some people in the audience at the recent National Championships. In other sports, there is maybe a more gradual build-up to stardom. But, in boxing, it can virtually happen overnight.
He added: "Kenny is a fundamentally humble guy with a 'can do' attitude. He just needs time out of the spotlight now. And that's what we hope to give him."