The ninth edition of the EUBC Women’s European Boxing Championships gets under way at the Polyvalent Hall in Romanian capital, Bucharest tomorrow with Ireland’s Katie Taylor seeking a record six in a row 60kg lightweight title.
Indeed Taylor has not lost a bout in these championships since 2004 as a 17 years old, in the preliminaries in Riccione,Italy..
On that occasion among the others who lost on that opening day were England’s Nicola Adams, Poland’s Karolina Michalczuk and long time Taylor ‘friend and foe’ Sofya Ochigava. How times have changed!
On this occasion, Ochigava is expected to be Taylor’s main rival once more as she has been since 2010 but strong opposition will come from among others, Poland’s two time AIBA World champion Karolina Michalczuk, England’s Chantelle Cameron (who has been chosen ahead of Natasha Jonas for the 60kg slot) and French titleholder, Estelle Mosselly. The lightweight division has some 23 other contenders out to gain Taylor’s crown, the largest number of entries for any weight in Bucharest.As always much will depend on the draw which takes place Saturday morning.
What of Taylor’s chances of improving upon her current record of 143 wins from 150 competitive bouts or adding to those previous five European titles?Speaking from Bucharest, Dad and coach Peter Taylor had this to say to RTÉ Sport about his daughter’s preparation pre-tournament.
“We have improved in the last month with more physical work than what we normally do,” he said“ .She’s lifting a lot heavier weights, and hopefully it’ll come to fruition through this tournament.”He also believes that speed her “greatest asset”, had improved since her gold medal in the 2012 Olympic Games. “I think she’s improved since the Olympic Games, by four or five percent, which is huge at this level.”
In recent weeks Taylor has been sparring in Germany with male and female teams from several nations including France, Germany, South Korea and the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games squad.Some of the overseas males were duly impressed. “She did great against them, and I was really pleased with the spars. I think they were shocked that a girl can do what she did,” Pete added.
Despite the added pressure that her success brings, Peter Taylor was confident that his daughter will continue to excel.“She loves being number one in the world… She’s really looking forward to boxing. She can’t wait to get in the ring.”, he told RTÉ Sport.
One of the younger members of the Irish team for Bucharest is 21 years old Michaela Walsh from the Holy Family Golden Gloves club in Belfast . Unlike Katie, Michaela has no personal funding from the IABA or Irish Sports Council nor any job outside of the sport she loves.Of course when boxing in Bucharest the Irish team is proudly sponsored by Quick Park of Dublin Airport.
Speaking to SportsNewsIreland before leaving for Bucharest, Michaela told us about her past, the present and her future hopes and needs:
“I will be representing Ireland in the European Championships after that I will represent Northern Ireland in this summer’s Commonwealth Games. My main achievements to-date include international medals in Youth and Juniors including a World bronze medal, being a European Silver medallist and gaining a European Bronze. At home I have 8 Irish titles of which 4 are at senior level. I also have some 7 Ulster titles and 7 Antrim titles. Last year I was the AIBA ranked world number 11 at senior level at 57kg but since then I have moved down to the Olympic weight category 51kg.
I beat the world number 2 last year (Team GB’s Lisa Whiteside) in Mayo. My home club is indeed Holy Family Golden Gloves. I am trained by Gerry Storey Senior, Gerry Storey Junior and also my own father Damien Walsh. Without these men I would not be where I am today. They all play a huge roll in my life and help me succeed. I also have a younger brother who is also Irish Champion, he trains along with me and pushes me to my highest limits. My family are very supportive of me boxing and are always behind me 100% and there is nothing I love better than making them proud.
I don’t get any funding or any sponsors for this, I’m at boxing full time and haven’t got time to work at the moment as my training schedule takes up most of my time. It would be highly appreciated if I could get a sponsor for coming up to these major competitions. If anyone is willing to sponsor me or knows anyone who would you would get plenty of coverage!Just email me (email@example.com) just a bit of help is all my asking ☺ thanks! #TheRoadToGold
The experienced Cavan boxer Ceire Smith is also in a touch weight division up against such as Olympic Gold medallist Nicola Adams,whilst Monaghan’s Joanne Lambe and Callan’s Clare Grace will be hoping to gain some wins against Europe’s best. Among those missing from Bucharest are Irish Elite 81kg champion Fiona Nelson from the City of Belfast Academy (a surprise omission) and Alanna Murphy from the Eastside Club. The latter will be competing as will Walsh for Northern Ireland in Glasgow but could have slotted in here at 64kg,albeit Taylor was always going to be no.1 at 60kg. The IABA really MUST do more for Irish women’s boxing.if it is to benefit from the great legacy of Katie Taylor’s many successes.
A reminder that the European Championships will also act as a qualifier for the inaugural 2015 European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan. Fourteen women from each of five weight categories will qualify via Bucharest plus there will be five Host nation boxers and also five Universality places distributed by AIBA/ EUBC.
Teams from Armenia, Azerbaijan, England, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Switzerland, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and Ukraine will compete in Bucharest though surprisingly Wales is not sending anyone on this occasion while Scotland has yet to send any female to any major tournament.
Coverage through the Europeans here on SportsNewsIreland.
Irish Team 2014 European Women’s Championships
51kg Ceire Smith (Cavan BC)
54kg Michaela Walsh (Holy Family GG)
57kg Joanna Lambe (Carrickmacross BC)
60kg Katie Taylor (Bray BC)
69kg Clare Grace (Callan)