I remember the first time I ever heard the word cyclone. My sister and I were woken up one night by our dad who was hysterical! He was jumping up and down shouting “get up! get up! An Irish man is about to be world champion! An Irish man is going to be THE world champion!” I remember stumbling out of bed rubbing my eyes and going into the front room. My dad was standing in the middle of the room with one arm punching the air shouting “The Clones Cyclone! The Clones Cyclone!” That night Barry McGuigan went 15 rounds against his opponent, Eusebio Pedrosa, winning on points in the end. Ever since that night I have loved boxing.
Irish boxing and amateur boxing in particular, is amazing! Amateur boxing is Ireland’s most successful Olympic sport and consistently produces medallists at Olympic, European and World competitions, at senior and underage level. Much of the credit for this success is attributed to the establishment of the High Performance Unit in Irish Boxing which was established in preparation for the Beijing Olympics.
We have seen some epic fights in amateur boxing and some close calls! As far back as the 1972 Munich Olympic Games, when Mick Dowling found himself within touching distance of at least bronze, only to be edged out on a split decision by Orlando Martínez of Cuba in the quarter-finals. However, in the 1992 Barcelona Games, Michael Carruth, made national history by upsetting another Cuban, Juan Hernández Sierra in the final round of the Welterweight division. Carruth became Ireland’s first Olympic gold medallist in boxing. Carruth, along with Wayne McCullough, who won the silver medal in the Bantamweight division in Barcelona, issued in a new era of excellence in Irish boxing. This era continued with the team that represented Irish boxing at the London 2012 Olympics.
That team has undoubtedly been the most successful boxing Olympic Team since the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Paddy Barnes made history in 2012 by being the first Irish boxer to ever win two Olympic Medals at two consecutive Olympics; only two Irish athletes have managed this. Katie Taylor made history at these games by being the first Irish woman to qualify and compete in an Olympic boxing event. She beat Russia’s Sofya Ochigavahe in the women’s lightweight final.
When it comes to Katy Taylor’s fights however, we are not used to waiting on the result from a split decision. There was unbearable tension and then huge relief, yesterday as Katie Taylor just about out-classed her Azerbaijani opponent to earn her place in the European Games final. It was undoubtedly the most anxious wait for a decision since Katie’s Olympic gold medal bout in London and the truth is it could have gone either way. In the end it was decided on a split decision, all four judges splitting the four rounds evenly between Katie and her opponent. What possibly won it for Katie were the couple of strong punches towards the end of the last round, just as at judges were making up their minds.
Katie has given herself a shot at a European gold medal in the lightweight final set for tomorrow (2pm Irish time). Her opponent will be Estelle Mossely from France, who won her semi-final bout against Tasheena Bugar from Germany, in pretty convincing fashion. Mossely won all four rounds against the German and looks well capable of putting up a good fight against Katie. If we have to endure another split decision, let’s hope they continue to fall in Katie’s favour.