Monday 22 January 2018

Taylor in shock as Walsh to quit Irish boxing

Billy Walsh
Billy Walsh
Katie Taylor at the sponsorship launch in the Odeon Cinema, Dublin. Photo: Ramsey Cardy

Martin Grant

Katie Taylor is "shocked" that former Irish boxing head coach Billy Walsh could be in the opposite corner at the Rio Olympics.

The Bray boxer was reacting to his bombshell decision to resign as head coach of Ireland's High Performance Unit and move to a new role with USA Boxing, which could see him training opponents of Ireland's boxers at the 2016 Olympics.

Boxing sources said Walsh knows Taylor's boxing style "inside out" and wouldn't "have to do much homework" to prepare a contender against the World and Olympic champion.

Taylor last night said she was saddened by the news. "I genuinely thought it would be resolved. He was so important to me early in my career. I'm shocked to think he could be in the opposite corner in Rio," Taylor said, as Electric Ireland was revealed as the sponsors of the team for Rio.

Walsh made the decision after eight months of negotiations with the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA). He said the IABA had "not made it possible" for him to continue in his role.

"Mentally, it's been very, very stressful... it has taken its toll in some ways," he admitted.

"I spent a lot of time crying this morning around this decision, but I think for the best of my health, for my future, it's the best way for me to move on."

However, the IABA said everything was done to keep the respected coach. "The IABA has been in discussions with Billy following his approach to the organisation to seek improved terms and conditions after he stated that he has received an offer from USA Boxing," it said.

"For the avoidance of any doubt, the IABA has done its utmost to retain Billy Walsh as Head Coach.

"However, Billy himself has made the decision to resign and take up a position with USA Boxing, and we wish him every success with this."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said if there is still a chance of keeping Walsh, then boxing authorities here "need to sort it out". "Billy Walsh is somebody that I admire greatly," Mr Kenny said last night. "I don't know the difficulties that there are with the IABA, but to think that we could lose somebody of the calibre and the outstanding qualities of Billy Walsh... is unthinkable, given that we are just 12 months from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. If this is an internal matter (between) the IABA and Billy Walsh, they need to sort that out.

"If the contract is not signed, perhaps there is still an opportunity to retain the services of somebody who has been a brilliant servant of Irish boxing."

Sports minister Michael Ring said he was disappointed with Walsh's decision. "I'm making myself available tomorrow, the next day, to talk to him, if anything can be done over the next 24 or 48 hours.

"I'm asking Billy Walsh to consider his position. I want Billy Walsh to stay," he added.

But Irish Sports Council chief executive John Treacy believes nothing can be done to bring Walsh back on board. "I don't think it's possible at this stage," Mr Treacy said.

Irish Independent

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