Medal repeats show IABA still doing 'amazing job' says Olympic medallist Aidan Walsh

Irish boxing has seen financial cuts and high-profile departures.
Medal repeats show IABA still doing 'amazing job' says Olympic medallist Aidan Walsh

RING WALK: Irish boxer and Olympic bronze medallist Aidan Walsh at the Olympic Federation of Ireland's inaugural Make A Difference Athletes Fund Golf Tournament at The K Club in Kildare.
Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Nevermind the boardroom spats, feel the medals.

That’s the opinion of Olympic boxing bronze medallist Aidan Walsh who says the multiple governance issues that continue to dog his sport at national and international level don’t affect him personally.

The 25-year-old continued Belfast’s vaunted Olympic boxing history with welterweight bronze in Tokyo in 2021 and added a Commonwealth gold this summer.

He says the fact that Irish boxers keep winning major medals is proof that their national federation is still doing great work and that our top boxers are carrying on regardless.

The latest twist in his sport’s troubled international history saw the world governing body (IBA) voting against a fresh presidential election last weekend.

That left Russia’s Uma Kremlev at the helm, prompting the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to again threaten the removal of boxing from their schedule after Paris 2024.

At home the Irish Amateur Boxing Federation (IABA) not only suffered financial cuts from the Sports Council while under duress to reform its structures but is currently without a High Performance Director and CEO after Bernard Dunne and Fergal Carruth respectively stood down.

"The people who were in that position before were amazing. I have a great relationship with Bernard. He helped me massively with a lot of the success I've had in my career,” Walsh said.

"Whoever fills that role, I'm sure they'll do a great job, but for me, my role is just to perform and whatever happens, happens. That role will be filled and whoever fills it, I wish them all the best.

"In terms of everything that has gone on, look at the success we're having?” he added.

START LINE: Sonia O'Sullivan makes her way to the tee box before her round at the Olympic Federation of Ireland’s inaugural Make A Difference Athletes’ Fund Golf Tournament at The K Club in Kildare. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
START LINE: Sonia O'Sullivan makes her way to the tee box before her round at the Olympic Federation of Ireland’s inaugural Make A Difference Athletes’ Fund Golf Tournament at The K Club in Kildare. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

"I know there's other things going on outside but when you look at the success we're having, I honestly think that the people who are in charge are doing an amazing job.

“It's not just one tournament in a blue moon, it's every tournament that Ireland goes to that we come back with medals,” he stressed. “Look at the Commonwealth Games, we were the top country, above India and England, which was phenomenal.

“My main goal is to focus on what I can do in the ring, what I can do in the gym and what I can live my life like. What happens outside of boxing I don’t have much control over.” 

Walsh was speaking at the Olympic Federation of Ireland’s inaugural corporate golf event for their ‘Make a Difference’ initiative to raise additional funds for their athletes.

Olympic bronze means he has rapidly gone from relatively little personal funding to the top tier of Sports Council grants (€40,000).

"It allows you to focus more on your boxing. You're not having to worry about things outside of sport, simple things like diesel money, living costs.

"Like everybody, I had to try and get money off my girlfriend, my mum, my dad and my sponsors before.

"I have a sponsored car from someone who has been absolutely outstanding, who has helped me since I was a kid. When you're in the Institute (of Sport) and they step up and give out grants when you're not on funding, that makes a huge difference. Those things keep you motivated, they keep you going.” 

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