Olympic gold medallist Michael Carruth has claimed that he was “Shanghaied” during the course of a heated RTÉ radio debate on coach Billy Walsh’s controversial departure as Irish boxing’s head coach last October.
Carruth, who won welterweight gold in 1992, found himself in a tricky position on Joe Duffy’s Liveline show as a number of callers were lined up to discuss Walsh’s decision to leave as Head Coach of the elite High Performance Unit, for a new role in the US.
Carruth, whose brother Fergal is Irish Amateur Boxing Association chief executive, felt that he was “attacked” on air and didn’t realise how many other contributors would be involved in the discussion.
“I did an interview on the Joe Duffy show and I felt I was kind of Shanghaied a little bit,” Carruth reflected over the Christmas period, after receiving the Mick Doyle Golden Memory award at the annual Canon Hayes ceremony in Tipperary.
“They didn’t tell me the amount of people that were on the show and then people were attacking me, people who don’t know anything about boxing, like mayors of Wexford (George Lawlor).
“He might know things about contracts but still knows nothing about boxing. The wrong people got involved in this argument.
“Nobody tells the IRFU what to do, or the FAI or the GAA.
“Who the hell has the right to tell Irish amateur boxing what do to? And we’re the most successful sport out there. Nobody.
“Look at what we’ve won, European and World championships, we have four boxers qualified for Rio and we’re still at the early stages.
“We have another six boxers that can qualify, which is phenomenal.
“If we can get another two, and I won’t be greedy, we’ll have six going to the Olympic Games. And then Katie (Taylor) has to come into the equation so again, we’re going to pull medals out of every spectrum of it.
“Boxing goes on, it has to go on. Mick Dowling made a statement that boxing will go back 25 years. Well if he looks back 25 years, I won a bronze medal at the World Championships. 23 years ago I won the Olympic Games, so it wasn’t too bad.
“Stupid talk as well, totally stupid talk. Get behind boxing, the people that are there, get behind the coaches, the establishment there and that’s why we win things. Bottom line.”
Carruth admits that Irish boxing was thrown “a body shot” following Walsh’s decision to leave for America – but insisted that life will go on regardless.
He said: “We were thrown a body shot in the last couple of months. Billy’s gone now and we have to live without Billy, and we will live without Billy.
“Boxing is a huge fraternity and it’s not about one person. If Billy was doing this interview tonight, he’d be saying the same thing.
“Billy’s got a great offer in America and we wish him all the best but he’s got a hard job because they’re very hard to deal with.
“They’re not like here, we’re very close-knit in boxing. I go to Pittsburgh every year and Pittsburgh can’t even get together, never mind the whole of America.
“Billy’s really going to have to pull the stops out to get things going there but they’ve given him the offer, given him the contract and given him the money so I wish him all the best. I might pop over to Colorado, he’s asked me to go and have a look around.”
Carruth added: “Of course he’s a loss but we can replace him, that’s boxing. I don’t mean to sound brash or harsh but we can replace him because the mechanism is there now.
“It’s not like the captain of the Titanic, he went down with the ship and that means the ship is sunk. The captain might be gone but we can replace the captain. There’s some great coaches in this country.
“Zaur (Antia) has been taken in as the interim boss and technically there’s nobody better. I would say Zaur will get the job eventually and somebody else will move up the ladder but again, there are some fantastic coaches.
“We can’t produce these boxers just as High Performance level – they have to be produced at this level, the grassroots. That’s when they become the Katie Taylors and the Michael Carruths, the champions, not when they get to the High Performance level.
“The High Performance level basically gets a jewel and he gets to shine it, that’s the bottom line.
“Billy doesn’t get any bangers going in there, he gets champions, the best boxers Ireland have at the time in whatever weight it is.
“Obviously by then, that boxer being able to go full-time and train with the High Performance team is going to further him again but there’s very little other than that difference that makes him the champion, apart from going full-time.”
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