IRELAND’S OLYMPIC HERO Katie Taylor put months of will-she-or-won’t-she speculation to bed yesterday by announcing that she will stay amateur in the hope of defending her boxing gold in Rio.
With ten-time world champion Oscar de la Hoya leading the list of major promoters queuing up for her signature, the Bray star turned down a lucrative move to the professional ranks.
Taylor’s decision comes as a huge boost to the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) and the Irish Sports Council (ISC) who were in danger of losing a second star talent in the space of a few weeks. John Joe Nevin, bantamweight silver medallist in London, announced this month that he intends to turn professional in the new year.
“We’re delighted for Katie and for Irish sport that she’s on the road to Rio,” Paul McDermott, communications manager with the ISC, told TheScore.ie.
“She’s an icon in Irish sport.”
It’s not an easy decision for anyone and you need some space and you need some time to reflect. The nature of who she is and the status that she has in world boxing, she was going to attract some of the biggest names.
Speaking on Today FM yesterday, Taylor estimated that the professional deals on the table could have netted her a six-figure sum. Her father and coach Peter led the negotiations with Irish boxing bosses and her professional suitors before she faced up to the fact that her heart is set on four more years as an amateur.
“Boxing for my country, there’s nothing better than that really and bringing home medals for my country,” she said.
Taylor’s decision will also be celebrated by amateur boxing’s global governing body, the AIBA. The 26-year-old was instrumental in lobbying for women’s boxing to be introduced as an Olympic sport in London and wowed senior decision-makers with her performances at exhibition events in 2007.
“When she goes to tournaments she’s the number one draw and I’m sure the international federation and anyone involved in women’s boxing — bar maybe her direct opponents — will be delighted that she’s staying,” McDermott added.
“I know that the international federation, certainly since just before Beijing and through the Beijing cycle, were very keen that the major names stay associated with Olympic boxing. They want that.
“In the past, historically, that may not have been the case but certainly it very much is the case now so I’m sure they’re happy.”