KATIE TAYLOR has won an astonishing 14 major international gold medals — all in-a-row, all in the lightweight class — since she finished on top of the podium at the 2005 European Women’s Championships in Norway.
One Olympic gold, which was claimed after an edge-of-the-seat 10-8 win over Russian southpaw Sofya Ochigava at the ExCel in London last Thursday, four AIBA World, five European and four EU titles have been plundered over the last seven years.
The 26-year-old orthodox, who occasionally switches to southpaw, has also won two AIBA World Female Boxer of the Year Awards and numerous Multi Nation gold, silver and bronze medals.
The decision over Ochigava, who Taylor beat in the 2011 and 2012 European and World finals, bridged the 20-year gap since Michael Carruth became the first boxer to win an Olympic gold at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
Thursday’s win was Taylor’s 132nd victory from 139 outings since she beat Belfast’s Allana Murphy in the first officially sanctioned Irish Amateur Boxing association female bout at Dublin’s National Stadium in October 2001.
The Co. Wicklow woman, who is coached by her dad Pete Taylor, also played a pivotal role in persuading the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to give female pugilism the green light for London 2012.
The IOC looked poised to open the door for women’s boxing for the 2008 Beijing Games, but they then turned it down for no apparent reason.
Taylor and the world’s top female fighters were devastated. Irish head coach Billy Walsh recalled that when the Irish team were preparing for the Beijing Games that Taylor was crestfallen.
“Katie was desperate to represent her country at the 2008 Olympic Games, but the powers that be didn’t sanction it for Beijing. Fortunately, it was given the green light for London in three weight categories, said Walsh.
“It was always Katie’s dream to represent her country at the Olympics and she qualified through the World Championships. She is without doubt the best pound-for-pound female boxer in the world.
“Winning Olympic gold is the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifices and herself and her dad Peter and her family deserve enormous credit. There were marvelous scenes at the boxing arena today which will live long in the memory.”
Meanwhile, following the success of women’s boxing at London 2012, particularly in light of the extraordinary atmosphere created by Taylor’s supporters at the ExCel, it now looks a good bet that the weight classes for women will be increased for the 2016 Games in Rio.
Taylor, who played such a pivotal role in getting women’s boxing accepted as an Olympic sport, not only claimed gold and the best Female Boxer of the Games Award, she also helped make a huge impression on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who said, courtesy of its President Jacques Rogge, that the IOC’s decision to include women’s boxing in 2012 Olympic program has been vindicated.
“I think we have been vindicated that it was a good decision – and it’s only the beginning,” said the IOC supremo.
The newly crowned Olympic champion and the Irish men’s boxing squad at London 2012 claimed one gold,one silver and two bronze medals. They arrived home to the red carpet treatement at Dublin Airport yesterday.
That 2012 accumulation matches the record haul of the 1956 Olympic boxing team in Melbourne, who took home one silver and three bronze from an Olympiad which saw Ronnie Delaney secure 1.500m gold.
Paddy Barnes, a bronze medal winner at the 2008 Olympics, created Irish boxing history at London 2012 after winning his second Olympic medal. John Joe Nevin and Michael Conlan are also guaranteed at least bronze.
And to think that all this is being achieved — boxers Ken Egan, the late Darren Sutherland and Paddy Barnes won Ireland’s only medals in all sports at the 2008 Games — out of one IABA High Performance Unit in Dublin.
Seven medals for boxing from the last two Olympics speaks for itself. Imagine if the funding or sponsorship was there for a High Performance Unit in the other three provinces of Ireland? We’d be the Cuba of international amateur boxing.