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Saturday 14 December 2019

Our first lady of boxing is invited to White House

Michelle Obama asks Katie Taylor to join her for St Patrick's Day celebration

Jason O'Brien, Ralph Riegel and Barry Duggan

WORLD champion boxer Katie Taylor has been invited to the White House for the St Patrick's Day celebrations -- after Michelle Obama learned of her success.

Her proud father and coach Peter confirmed yesterday that the Olympic gold medal hopeful would be a guest of US President Barack Obama, but it appears it was Michelle Obama who sent out the invite.

"It seems that Michelle did a little boxing herself when she was younger, also coached by her dad," Mr Taylor said. "She got talking about Katie at a function with (Olympic Council of Ireland President) Pat Hickey recently and said she'd love Katie to be part of the official Irish delegation to the White House for St Patrick's Day.

"The invitation arrived in a sealed envelope this morning. We're all absolutely delighted. It's an amazing privilege for Katie."

Fellow sporting legend Packie Bonner knows what it is like to be the centre of attention. It is almost 20 years since he correctly guessed right and dived into the nation's affections.

The former international goalkeeper was yesterday revealed as the grand marshal of this year's Patrick's Day parade in Dublin and said he was "stunned and delighted" to be chosen for the role.

Previous grand marshalls in Dublin included athlete Eamonn Coughlan, singer Ronnie Drew and comedienne Maureen Potter, with organisers choosing people "for their outstanding achievements and contribution" to Irish life.

"I hope that I can do the role justice like some of the greats who have gone before me," Packie said yesterday. "It had always been a great day and a great occasion for Ireland and this year I am sure it will be no different."

In 2003, Bonner was named technical director and goalkeeping coach for the Football Association of Ireland, and he also works in the media.


The theme of this year's Dublin parade is 'The Extraordinary World', and more than 650,000 people are expected to line the capital's streets for the show, which begins at noon. Another 800,000 are expected to tune in to the live TV coverage.

In Cork and Limerick, the sporting theme is continued. Record-breaking Channel swimmer Lisa Cummins (27) will be grand marshal down by the Lee while Irish rugby star Keith Earls will do the honours in the Treaty City.

Last year, Ms Cummins became the first Irish person to complete a gruelling return swim across the Channel, swimming from Dover to Calais and then back to England again.

Just 20 swimmers in history have managed to complete the incredible 70km swim over the course of 35 hours.

Keith Earls will lead the parade in his home town just days after he is expected to have lined out for Ireland in the Six Nations match against Wales.

Before the traditional parade on March 17, the country's biggest fireworks event -- Skyfest -- will take place in Limerick on March 13.

A total of one-and-a-half tonnes of fireworks will combust in a cascade of colour over King John's Castle in the city that night.

Irish Independent

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