Monday 23 April 2018

'Profile: Who is boxer Michael O'Reilly?

Boxer Michael O’Reilly. Photo: Paul Mohan / Sportsfile
Boxer Michael O’Reilly. Photo: Paul Mohan / Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick and Tom Rooney

Middleweight boxer Michael O’Reilly burst into the wider public consciousness last summer when, at the inaugural European Games in Baku, he won the gold medal.

But his career has been laced with controversy as well. The shock news that he had failed a dope test is an acute embarrassment to his coach, Pat Ryan who is the current President of the Irish Amateur Boxing Assocation.

Born in Clonmel in March, 1993 O'Reilly lives in Portlaoise where he learned his boxing with the local club.

A member of the Travelling Community he has a young son and a daughter.

In 2011 he was disciplined by the IABA and dropped from the Irish youth team which was due to compete in the European Youth Championships which were being hosted in the IABA in Dublin's City West hotel.

However, O'Reilly took a High Court action against the decision by the IABA and was restored to the team and went on to win a silver medal at the tournament. Indeed, he was deemed to have been robbed in the tournament.

Michael O'Reilly Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Michael O'Reilly Photo: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

This became a pattern of his career – a southpaw who did his best work on the counter – sometimes the judges didn't give him full credit for his efforts.

When he graduated to the senior ranks he made an immediate impact winning a silver medal at the European Union championships in 2014 when again he was deemed unlucky not to get the decision in the final.

But he came of age as an elite boxer at the inaugural European Games in Baku last year in early summer when he won the gold medal in the middleweight division – which earned him a spot at the World championships in Doha last autumn.

Again he excelled at the World event securing a bronze medal before losing by Bektemir Melikuziev from Uzbekistan in the semi-final. He subsequently controversially beaten in a box-off by a veteran Egyptian boxer for a place at the Rio Olympics.

At the next European qualifier in Turkey earlier this year he suffered a shock defeat in the early rounds. At the time it was suggested that he sustained an injury in the fight which affected his performance. However, he was subsequently sent home from the tournament for an alleged breach of discipline and was fined a reported 5,000 euro by the IABA, though it is believed that the fine was ultimately waived.

There was speculation at the time that O'Reilly would be forced into a box-off to decide whether he would go to the final Olympic qualifying tournament in Baku.

But in the event there was no box off; he was sent to Baku and comfortably won the tournament and become the eighth and final Irish boxer to qualify for Rio.

Seeded at number three in the Olympic draw he was due to make his debut in Rio on August 12 but it now looks his dream of glory and possibly his career is over. His dream of becoming an Olympic champions and representing his family and country with pride are in tatters.

Fact File on O'Reilly

Name: Michael O Reilly

Date of Birth: 30/03/1993

Age: 23

Born: Clonmel

Lives: Portlaoise

Weight: 75kg (Middleweight)

Local Club: Portlaoise BC Club Coach: Pat Ryan

Partner Name: Chantelle

Children Names (If Applicable): Son MJ (3) and daughter Sueellen (4)

AIBA World Rank: 2; Seeded at number 3 in Rio Olympic draw

Rio Qualification: World Qualifiers 2016 (Baku, Azerbaijan)

International Achievements:

 2016 Baku Olympic Qualifiers (Gold)

 2015 European Games-Baku (Gold)

 2015 World Elite Championships -Doha (Bronze)

 2015 Strandja Memorial Tournament (Silver)

 2014 European Union Championships (Silver)

 2011 European Youth Championships (Silver) Domestic Achievements:

 2015 Irish Elite Championships (Gold)

 2014 Irish Elite Championships (Gold)

 2013 Celtic Box Cup (Gold)

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