Tuesday 27 September 2016

Katie Taylor: "I'm shocked to think Billy Walsh will be in the opposite corner in Rio"

Published 19/10/2015 | 21:12

Katie Taylor, Ireland, with coaches, from left, Pete Taylor, Billy Walsh and Zaur Antia
Katie Taylor, Ireland, with coaches, from left, Pete Taylor, Billy Walsh and Zaur Antia

Katie Taylor has spoken about the departure of Billy Walsh from Irish boxing for the first time, saying she is very saddened by the news.

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Speaking at an Electric Ireland event today where they were named as sponsors of the 2016 Irish Olympic team, Taylor reacted to the bombshell that Walsh had resigned as head coach of the hugely succesful head coach of the High Performance Unit of Irish boxing.

"I'm very saddened by the news," the 2012 Olympic champion said.

"I genuinely thought it would be resolved. He was so important to me early in my career."

Walsh had been in a long-running discussion with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association about his future and there were suggestions that he may now take up a role with the US women's team.

This evening the possibility that the Wexford man would take up that role was not confirmed but the prospect was not one that Taylor would welcome.

"I'm shocked to think he could be in the opposite corner in Rio," Taylor said.

Earlier today the sport was thrown into turmoil when Walsh handed in his resignation.

In a dramatic and detailed statement Walsh said it was with 'deep regret' that he had to take this step.

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"Since February of this year I have been engaged in a process with the IABA to secure my future as Head Coach with the High Performance Unit and senior team.

"A protracted process that went on for eight months included numerous high level meetings that resulted in various proposals. In August a fair proposal was developed under the auspices of the Irish Sports Council (ISC) that was acceptable and fair but then not subsequently ratified by IABA.

"I was hopeful in recent weeks that a final proposal arising out of an approach in late September by the IABA would lead to a successful conclusion but unfortunately it didn’t."

Walsh went on to thank the Irish Sporting Council for their efforts in trying to solve the impasse which led him to resigning.

"I wish to express my gratitude to the Irish Sports Council for all their support and commitment to the IABA High Performance Programme over the course of the last 14 years and most recently in trying to broker an agreement on this matter," his statement read.

"The Sports Council have supported Irish boxing and worked tirelessly to find a solution."

Walsh’s resignation is a massive blow to Irish boxing just seven months away from the Rio Olympics. Ireland finished in a record high fourth place in the medal table at the World championships in Doha with Michael Conlan becoming the first Irish boxer to win a gold medal at the event.

It remains to be seen whether a last minute solution can be found but the IABA will come under enormous pressure to explain why they couldn’t hold on to the services of Walsh who had been Head Coach of the High Performance since it was set up in 2003.

Since then Irish boxers has won seven Olympic medals and they set for more success in Rio but the future of the HPU has now been plunged into doubt.

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