Katie Taylor with the Irish flag and her 2012 Gold medal.

Long before the London Olympics in 2012, Katie Taylor was on track to becoming Ireland’s greatest ever boxer. If she wins gold in Rio she will go down as one of Ireland’s greatest ever athletes.

Katie began boxing at the age of 11 in St. Fergal’s Boxing Club in her hometown of Bray, Co. Wicklow. Her father, who himself was a former boxing champion, began coaching her and her brothers and four years later she participated (and was victorious) in the first ever sanctioned women’s boxing match in Ireland.
She has won 19 medals in different competitions over the past 10 years including winning gold at the European Amateur Championships, the World Amateur Championships and most significantly the Olympic Games. Her victory in London was historic because it was the first year that women’s boxing was included by the IOC after years of campaigning. After gaining equal footing with their male counterparts all eyes were on the women to see what they would bring to the Games. As well as this attention, Katie also had to deal with the expectations of a nation on her shoulders – she was the flag bearer for the opening ceremony as well as being Ireland’s best (and only real) chance of winning gold at the Games and she did not disappoint. Over 1.1 million people tuned in to witness history being made on the 9th of August when she defeated Sofia Ochigava 10 -8.

Katie turned down many lucrative offers of turning professional after her success, keeping her amateur status and achieved more success by winning her fifth straight World Amateur Championship in 2014. Boxing wasn’t her only interest though – she is also an accomplished footballer having made over 40 international appearances for her country before retiring in 2009 to focus on her boxing career.

Katie has shown that with hard work and determination women can achieve incredible success, even in a male dominated industry. Speaking at an STEM event for teenage girls earlier this year she said: “It’s so great to be able to inspire these young women today to get involved in male-dominated subjects. I know exactly what that’s all about being in a male-dominated sport. But sometimes one person has to step out, to be a pioneer, a trailblazer really. When I started boxing I was on my own. There were no female boxers in this country. Now every boxing club is packed so as I said it just takes one, a person to step out and be brave.”

Regardless of the outcome in Rio, Katie will go down in history as one of the greatest athletes that Ireland has ever produced.

-Michelle O’Brien
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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