Friday 22 February 2019

'God arms me with strength and keeps my way secure'

Edel Kennedy

IT is a full-time job looking after Katie Taylor -- and her whole family are happy to row in.

The Olympic champion has one of the strongest teams in sport surrounding her, and leading that team are her parents Bridget and Pete.

While Pete trains Katie, her mother takes care of everything else, including cooking and washing her gear.

"She (Bridget) is as much a part of it as dad," said Katie's brother Peter last night.

"She looks after Katie's nutrition, makes sure she gets her rest, makes sure she doesn't want for anything.

"At that level Katie doesn't need any distractions and she doesn't need to be expending energy on things like washing clothes and cooking. She needs all her energy to train.

"It's a full-time job looking after Katie," he added.

The Taylor family live in Bray, Co Wicklow, where Katie's mother grew up as Bridget Cranley.

She met her English husband Pete there as a teenager. His father was visiting Ireland to work in the amusement arcades on Bray seafront, and Pete came to the town to help his dad. They fell in love and he never went home.

After a small wedding in England, Bridget became a mother at 17, and the couple now have four children and five grandchildren.

"I became a full-time mother at 17, which was a very big shock to the system," said Bridget in a previous interview.

The eldest son Lee (32) works in construction and is engaged to his partner, Nicola King. They have three sons -- Jason (12), Aaron (6) and Leon (2).

Sarah (28) is engaged to her partner Trevor McMahon and works in recruitment company Randridge, which has an office in Bray. They have one son, Jake (10).

And Peter (27), a professor of maths in Trinity College, is married to Kim. They have one daughter, Madeline Hope, who is just 13 weeks old.

The family still live in the same modest three-bedroom house in Bray.

Bridget was the first female referee and judge in boxing in the country and she encouraged her "tomboy" daughter to take part in every type of sport in school.

Katie's first visit to the gym was a happy accident -- one night when her father couldn't find a babysitter he simply took her along. She was 10 and the rest is history.

Previously an electrician, Pete has been able to give up the day job in the last five years and become a trainer full time.

He also trained Adam Nolan, who competed in this year's Olympics but who was knocked out last weekend. However, Peter is said to be the first boxing trainer to have two fighters from the same club qualify for the same Olympics.

However, the huge achievements haven't come without sacrifices. "Katie hasn't had a holiday in about 10 years," said Peter last night. "Neither have my parents."

He said that even a weekend away is a near impossibility thanks to Katie's punishing training schedule and the boxing season. Katie wasn't able to have a 21st birthday party because she was training for a competition at the time and had to train twice a day. Instead they had a "quiet family meal together".

Pete travels with his daughter to the international bouts and as he is her trainer, his travel is funded by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association. But Bridget has to pay her own way.

"If I'm not there I'm in agony at home," she said. "I get so nervous throughout the day, and I almost hate it when the phone finally rings with the news."

But when she does travel, she meets with her daughter before the bout and they pray.

"Before Katie goes into the ring to fight, normally I meet her in the room and we pray together," said Bridget.

iPod

The family have a very strong Christian faith and they attend St Mark's Pentecostal Church on Pearse Street in Dublin each week. Before fights her routine also involves listening to Christian rock on her iPod and reciting Bible verses.

Away from the ring, Katie leads a very quiet life.

She has a close circle of friends, but a night out involves no indulgences. She doesn't drink or smoke and usually opts for a quiet night at a restaurant or the cinema.

"She's totally dedicated to training," said Peter. "To be honest her idea of a good night is going and sitting with our nanny and watching the telly."

Katie's maternal grandmother Kathleen Cranley (80) -- whom Katie was named after -- wasn't able to travel to London to cheer her on but she watched every fight from her living room in Bray.

"All I can say is that it's been a long journey," said Peter last night.

"It's taken several different elements between my parents' hard work, Katie's unbelievable talent and an amazing God. She's achieved so many things and now she's where she's always wanted to be."

Irish Independent

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