Monday 22 October 2018

Lee didn't get the credit his undoubted talent deserved - but he will always be a champion

Andy Lee is someone who conducted himself in and out of the ring with huge nobility. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Andy Lee is someone who conducted himself in and out of the ring with huge nobility. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Eamonn Sweeney

Andy Lee always seemed slightly out of step. He was a brilliant amateur boxer when Irish amateur boxing was in the doldrums who turned professional when the pro game barely featured on the national radar. He was an Irish champion who spoke with an English accent, a Limerick hero who never got the big home-town gig he deserved, a Traveller whose background was rarely mentioned in our national media. Above all, he was an articulate, intelligent and gentlemanly figure in an era when boxing and combat sports in general favoured the grudge match and the loudmouth and stepped closer to the gutter.

Hopefully this anomalous tendency in Lee's character has persisted and he will be that rare boxer who's quit at the right time, managing to set himself up nicely without suffering too much damage along the way. He deserves to because Andy Lee (pictured) is someone who conducted himself in and out of the ring with huge nobility.

Lee arrived on the amateur scene at a time when the glory days of the 1992 Olympics were fading from the memory and the new golden era heralded by the 2008 Games was something no-one would have dared to imagine. At the age of 18 he won a world junior silver medal and at 19 a European bronze medal which earned him a spot at the 2004 Olympics where he lost a controversial decision in the second round. Lee was Ireland's only representative at the Games and opted to turn pro rather than aim at the Beijing Olympics.

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