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King of the Travellers tips grandson for Olympic gold

BARE-KNUCKLE champ -- and King of the Travellers -- Joe Joyce has thrown his weight behind grandson Joe Ward in his bid for Olympic gold.

Ward (18) has qualified for the elite squad that will battle for glory at London 2012 Olympic Games.

But grandad Joe has also been making his mark. He has the opening line in the award-winning movie Knuckle, telling the camera: "I left him with a face like a butcher's block."

Big Joe Joyce is just one of dozens of Travellers featured in the documentary about the savage fighting that is used to 'settle' clan arguments

Former Olympic boxer Barry McGuigan has now tipped grandson Joe -- who has no involvement in bare-knuckle boxing -- for greatness.

"He's a world-class talent, no question about it. He just needs to keep fit," McGuigan said.


"He came into last year's (national) seniors on the back of the world junior championships, so he had continuity. He needs to have continuity between now and the Olympic Games."

The rising star from Moate, Westmeath, claimed his spot at the Games after a resounding 29-10 victory over Kenny Egan in the light heavyweight final at the beginning of last month.

"I thought Kenny would make it more difficult for him this time, but he made it look so easy because he's so powerful. He hurt Kenny several times and clearly dominated the fight," McGuigan added.

"He's going to go to Turkey because of his dominant performance (against Egan) but between now and then he needs to have more international training camps.

"He needs those camps to keep himself busy and keep sparring with top quality guys.

"He's maybe lacking a bit of fitness and competition sharpness, but he's a superb talent, and I've no doubt that he'll be among the medals."

Ward, who has now beaten Egan twice in successive national finals, described the clash as the "biggest nine minutes" of his career.

"I'm delighted with my performance. I went in there with the right tactics. I used them well and I got the right result.".

Joe is proud dad to baby Joe -- his partner Julianne gave birth just two months ago.

After the contest Egan also predicted that Ward would become an Olympic star, saying "I'm going to put a couple of grand on him to win a medal."

Joe joined Olympians on a Tuesday training camp this week in Germany.