'I just know that it's a sh**show at the moment and it's been like that for a number of years'

Kellie Harrington on the ongoing Irish boxing controversy, and recent World Championship glory.

ellen-keane Olympic gold medallist Kellie Harrington (Boxing) pictured following her announcement as a Sports Ambassador for Dublin City Council. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

KELLIE HARRINGTON SAYS she’s in the dark amidst the ongoing Irish boxing kerfuffle, which she labels a “shitshow”.

Many have hit out at the Irish Athletic Boxing Association [IABA] in the wake of Bernard Dunne’s resignation as high performance director earlier this month.

Harrington was among those to share her support for Dunne at the time, with the Olympic gold medallist saying she “would like to see him change his mind, but it’s hard to when you’re not allowed to do your job the way it should be done,” and adding that he was “a great director”.

The IABA has since been told that it must reform or face ‘immediate and severe financial sanctions’ from government, and there’s no sign of the controversy resolving.

Asked today whether she has been kept up to speed on the potential changes within the Association, Harrington said: “No idea. Honestly, I have no idea what’s going on.

“I just know that it’s a shitshow at the moment and it’s been like that for a number of years. Something keeps happening all the time like, and it needs to be sorted out because the only ones who are missing out is is the boxers, the athletes.

“Secretly, in my head, I’m hoping that it’s gonna get sorted out and Bernard will take his job back. I think that’s probably not gonna happen, but that’s that’s what I would love to happen.

“I have spoken to Bernard and I’ve said to him, ‘Look, I would absolutely love you to be back and to be looking after us — it’s only a short time away, even get us through Paris. [2023 Olympic Games]‘ But I’ve also said to him, ‘Listen, your health is your wealth, and this is just a part of your life and you’ve got to look after yourself. And by looking after yourself, you can look after your family, you know. And you’ve got to make the right decision.’”

It’s not all negative in Irish boxing, though. The last few weeks have been hectic, with Amy Broadhurst and Lisa O’Rourke enjoying a Golden Hour at the World Championships in Istanbul, claiming a sensational double.

The duo became Ireland’s newest amateur boxing world champions, joining Katie Taylor, Michael Conlan and, of course, Harrington on the prestigious list.

Injury prevented the 2020 Olympic gold medallist from competing, but she was supporting from afar, even attending the airport home-coming, though the 32-year-old Dubliner kept a low-profile and let them enjoy the limelight.

“It’s really hard when you’re sitting back and you’re watching your weight, and especially with all the money that’s on the line,” Harrington noted, with a laugh.

“It was very, very difficult at the start. But you know what, when I got to watch the team – I’ve been training alongside these girls for for a good while now, and when you get to see how they’re performing, not just a two world champions, but the team as a whole, and the change in them, the growth that they’re having, it just makes me so happy to be a part of that… to be a small part of that.

“And then watch the two girls go on and get the golds, that was just the icing on the cake. It was absolutely brilliant. It was a great day for Irish sport. Just great.”

“Lisa and Amy definitely have the ability to win gold, and so has everybody else on that team,” she added, backing the “absolutely fantastic” Gabriel Dossen and Dylan Eagleson to “smash it” in their respective European Championship finals this afternoon.

“Everybody else has has the ability to get out there and get gold. It’s all on the day, and I do believe that the other girls on the team, they will get their chance as well. It’s all about staying positive and recovering from the little bumps in the road and realising that it will happen, but it might not just happen as quickly or as soon as you would like it to happen.”

Source: DublinCityCouncil/YouTube

Harrington feels the palpable sense of excitement around the sport at the minute and is delighted to be part of it all, though understandably aggrieved at the lack of terrestrial TV coverage.

What are they
really like?

Rare insights on sport's biggest names from the writers who know them best. Listen to Behind the Lines podcast.

Become a Member

There was public outcry the day Broadhurst and O’Rourke struck gold, the feeling of an opportunity missed as many scrambled for Youtube links.

“I mean, it’s nothing new to me, really, to be honest with you,” Harrington concedes.

“Sure I’ve been to the World Championships, I won a gold in the worlds in ’18 and it wasn’t on the tely. I won a silver in the Europeans Games in ’19, and it wasn’t on the tely. They just don’t show it. It’s something that we just go, ‘Yeah, whatever… it is what it is. I have the medals, I don’t really…

“It should be… and it’s not even the fact that it’s a gender thing, that it’s like, ‘God they show the men’s and they don’t show the women’s, or they show the women’s and they don’t show the men’s,’ it’s just the fact they don’t show boxing full-stop. I don’t know.

“Yeah, I could really, really let loose but I’ll keep me shit together!”

Harrington will focus on herself and her own comeback, though unwilling to clarify the nature of the injury which kept her out of the Worlds, labelling it “a little niggle”.

“I’m hopefully going to be back sparring by the start of July, just getting ready for the Europeans hopefully in October. Just getting back slowly but surely, looking after my physical and mental health.” 


Olympic gold medallist Kellie Harrington (Boxing) was today announced as a Sports Ambassador for Dublin City Council alongside Paralympic gold medallist, Ellen Keane (Swimming). 

The partnership sees DCC teaming up with the two local sports stars to promote the benefits of sport and physical activity in Dublin, while highlighting the importance of a wide and varied sporting infrastructure for a healthy and happy city

About the author:

Emma Duffy

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel