Olympic champion Kellie Harrington epitomises all that good and special about the sport of boxing

Her performance lifted the spirit of the Irish nation as she was crowned Ireland's third Olympic boxing champion.
Olympic champion Kellie Harrington epitomises all that good and special about the sport of boxing

Olympic champion Kellie Harrington then world champion visits Cork City Hall, greeted by Tom Murray, Cllr Fergal Dennehy, deputy Lord Mayor and Mick O'Brien.

SHORTLY after 6am on Sunday last in Tokyo, Kellie Harrington gave an outstanding exhibition of boxing.

Her performance lifted the spirit of the Irish nation as she was crowned Ireland's third Olympic boxing champion.

Her success will enhance the sport throughout the country. 

The Irish team consisting of seven boxers did remarkably well and returned with two medals.

Aidan Walsh, who won bronze, was unlucky to withdraw from his semi-final because of a leg injury.

In the build-up to the Olympic Games and throughout the tournament, Kellie Harrington was an outstanding ambassador for the sport.

At all times, she was focused and composed. 

She was equally modest and displayed great respect for and gratitude to all who helped her on her journey to become a world champion and now an Olympic champion.

In the Olympic final, Kellie displayed the characteristics of an experienced and seasoned athlete. 

Her opponent and World champion Beatriz Ferreira from Brazil, known as the beast, had been defeated only once in her last thirty bouts.

However, Kellie was undaunted and put her thrust in her own ability and the advice of her coaches. 

Later, on Sunday afternoon, Ger Canning, the RTÉ Sports commentator, paid tribute to her Olympic success.

Canning, a Corkman, was about to begin his commentary on the Cork and Kilkenny All-Ireland semi-final and rejoiced in Harrington's Olympic success.

He then made a bold suggestion to the nation saying "today should be known as Kellie Harrington day."

Eddie Irwin of Iwin Pharmacies presents JJ Murphy, Chairman of Cork Ex-Boxers Assoc. with a sponsorship cheque to defray the cost of erecting the Olympians Commemorative Plaque.
Eddie Irwin of Iwin Pharmacies presents JJ Murphy, Chairman of Cork Ex-Boxers Assoc. with a sponsorship cheque to defray the cost of erecting the Olympians Commemorative Plaque.

Another Corkman who honoured Harrington was Tom Murray, a national coach and head coach with the Muskerry club in Ballincollig.

Following her triumph in the world championships in 2018, the following year Tom promoted the visit of the world champion to Cork.

She was accompanied on her visit by her father. 

Tom had arranged for Kellie to see the famous landmarks on Leeside.

The following day she was warmly received at City Hall by the Lord Mayor, Cllr. Fergal Dennehy. 

She was also welcomed by the President of the Cork Board Mick O'Brien who made her a presentation on behalf of all involved in Cork boxing.

She very graciously thanked the Lord Mayor, the County Board and Tom Murray for organising her very enjoyable trip to Cork. 

Her last words leaving the city that weekend was that her dream was to win an Olympic medal.

At 6.50am on Sunday morning last and elated Tom Murray sent a text to O'Brien which read "Mick, we will have to bring her back to City Hall...what an achievement."

O'Brien said that it is the policy of Cork boxing organisations to embrace and honour our boxing heroes, both local and national.

In 2014, to coincide with the Centenary of the foundation of the Cork County Boxing Board, the Cork Ex-Boxers Association made provision to honour all Cork boxing Olympians from 1924 onwards.

Here, a plaque was erected in Bishop Lucey Park. This was a magnificent and colourful ceremony. 

At the then Evening Echo ladies sports awards were (L to r): Kirstie Smith, Dunmanway BC, Louise Forde, Togher BC, elite champion Christina Desmond, Fr Horgan's BC and Aine McLaughlin, Spartan boxing club.
At the then Evening Echo ladies sports awards were (L to r): Kirstie Smith, Dunmanway BC, Louise Forde, Togher BC, elite champion Christina Desmond, Fr Horgan's BC and Aine McLaughlin, Spartan boxing club.

This plaque was sponsored by Eddie Irwin, MD of the Irwin chain of Pharmacies.

Eddie has been associated with the St Colman's BC in the past. 

He said he was honoured to sponsor the occasion and presented the cheque to JJ Murphy, Chairman of the Cork Ex Boxers Association.

This presentation took place outside his branch on Shandon Street which is known as the Cork boxing boulevard.

Oo that special day a huge crown assembled, including members of the families whose kin represented Ireland down through the years.

Each family was presented with a Cork crystal glass bowl. 

All strands of Cork boxing were represented including the Army, Gardai and Navy who collectively have produced many outstanding Olympians.

Members of their families proudly accompanied Cork's most recent Olympians. 

These included Kieran Joyce. Paul Buttimer, Michael Roche and Youth Olympian Christina Desmond.

Amongst the attendance that day was the then Irish head coach Billy Walsh. 

Today he is head coach with the USA. A few years ago, he was announced as World coach of the year.

Following his departure as Irish head coach, he was replaced by Zaur Antia who has done an outstanding job.

From time to time, controversary surrounds the administration of Irish boxing and this may have an unsettling effect on the morale of the sport.

Against this background Zaur and his team had triumphed and this week they came home with gold and bronze medals from the greatest show on earth.

Zaur is a native of Georgia and would never have made his way to these shores if it were not for the diplomatic work of Dan O'Connell, a former President of the Cork Board.

Dan's work on the world boxing stage provided him with an opportunity to see what the Georgian had to offer. 

Following this, Dan made a recommendation to the IABA and the rest is history.

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