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'This morning, I spent a lot of time crying' - Billy Walsh on his hardest-ever decision

The Irish boxing coach’s resignation was confirmed earlier today.

Billy Walsh has confirmed his resignation from the Irish coaching set-up.
Billy Walsh has confirmed his resignation from the Irish coaching set-up.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

IRISH BOXING COACH Billy Walsh has opened up about “the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make”.

After eight months of unsuccessful negotiations over a new contract, Walsh told RTÉ News At One that it was “time to move on”.

The acclaimed coach will now take up a position in Colarado with the US ahead of the 2016 Olympics, having confirmed his resignation from the Irish coaching team earlier today.

“I had a deadline with people from America who were offering me the position over there as a head coach to either take it or leave it, and I pushed it back eight months for everything to be resolved but unfortunately, it didn’t happen,” he explained.

Asked why the situation didn’t end positively, he added: “You better ask the IABA rather than myself why.

“I wanted a bit of dignity and respect around my position and to be able to lead the team to Rio and have the autonomy to do my job.”

He will be hoping to emulate his success of recent years in his new role with the US and on that matter, he added:

“It’s a long-term venture that gives me a bit of security, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to work with the biggest nation in the world, which has sadly slipped from the radar of amateur boxing. There’s a massive amount of talent over there and if we put a system in place like we’ve achieved here in Ireland, it could be the best nation in the world.”

Yet despite this attractive offer, he indicated that his decision to leave the Irish set-up was regrettable.

“It’s been the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make and it’s been mentally very stressful over the last eight months. It has taken its toll in some ways. I’ve been gutted. This morning I spent a lot of time crying about this decision. But I think for my health and for my future, it’s best for me to move on.

“I’ve gone back time after time on different occasions and been rejected having tried to make it work. For my own dignity and respect, I said I couldn’t (go back any more).”

Nevertheless, while leaving on a slightly sour note, Walsh says he will have many fond memories from his time with Ireland.

“The last 13 or 14 years have been the best of my life working in my own sport.

“To lead the team through the last few Olympic Games has been a dream come true.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I’m Irish to the core and personally, this has driven me to somewhere else.”

The coach also paid tribute to the “fantastic staff” he was leaving behind and said a number of Ireland’s boxers were disappointed by his departure.

“I spoke to them by text this morning and a lot of them were very saddened.

“Hopefully, their success will continue in Rio.”

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Paul Fennessy

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