WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Published 10/07/2011 | 05:00
(Former European amateur
With three Irishmen taking gold medals at the European Championships in the last two years, it's hard to believe that Paddy Barnes' success in Moscow last year was our first European boxing gold for 19 years.
Paul Griffin became only the fifth Irish boxer to take home a gold medal from the competition when he won in Sweden in 1991 after a gap of 42 years.
"It wasn't really a shock for me, to be honest," he says. "I'd been champion all the way up since I was 11 years of age. I really thought I was going to get a medal going out there. When it comes to getting gold, it was 42 years, but I felt confident going in."
Griffin had secured 12 Irish featherweight titles, four at senior level, before moving on to a professional career in 1995 and recording 25 wins and four losses. An eye injury prevented him earning more than European bronze in 1993.
He returned to Ireland last year after spending 12 years in Australia. Initially intending to take a break from boxing Down Under, he was convinced to return to the ring by legendary Aussie trainer Johnny Lewis.
Back in his native Dublin, he was in the ring as recently as January at the age of 39, defeating Hungarian Janos Vass.
Griffin now enjoys helping out training young boxers at Donore Boxing Club. "There's a couple of good kids coming through. I just enjoy giving them a bit of time."
He also trains with girlfriend Stephanie Quaile, another boxer out of Drimnagh Boxing Club where his own career started off.
This year both Ray Moylette and Joe Ward secured gold at the European Championships. While excited about the whole Irish team, Griffin sees the most potential in Westmeath teenager Ward.
"He could be anything, you know. He's only 17. Personally I'd say he'll probably grow into a heavyweight, and then, you never know. He has the ability. He's not just tough and strong, he's very smart in the ring too."
But he thinks it's more than just individual talent driving the success of the Irish team.
"I think that [team coach] Billy Walsh and all the High Performance team are doing a great job. Look at the success that they're having. It was 42 years for me to win one, then 19 years for Paddy Barnes. Now it's one year. So they're doing something right, aren't they?
"You'd just hope that the funding keeps going, because we had nothing like that in our day and it was very hard. But the kids now -- the opportunities they have are unbelievable."
Sunday Indo Sport