'She's over the moon but she's not stopping there': Kellie Harrington has her sights set on gold

Jimmy Halpin is confident that Irish boxing’s newest star can bring home the world title.

Harrington: fights for gold at her first world championships.
Harrington: fights for gold at her first world championships.

THERE’S A NEW star on the scene when it comes to Irish female boxing, and going by her recent form, it looks like she will join Katie Taylor as a household name in coming years.

Less than a year ago, Kellie Harrington wasn’t on the international radar as an elite boxer. She was competing in club tournaments and national championships.

Little did anyone know she’d be challenging for, and just eight minutes away from, the world title a few months later.

The Glasnevin clubwoman booked her place in the world championship final on Thursday as she dominated Canada’s Sara Kali for a unanimous decision win in their light-welterweight semi-final in Astana.

Her performances so far in her first world championships have been outstanding.

Unfortunately, the 26-year-old’s weight category does not feature in the Olympics, so she will not be joining Team Ireland on the plane to Rio.

However, she does join an elite group of just four other Irish boxers — Jason Quigley, Michael Conlan, Joe Ward and Taylor — who have reached  a world championship final, an achievement in itself.

inpho_01065812 Harrington comfortably secured her spot in the final.

Harrington has been boxing for the past 10 years and credits much of her success to Glasnevin Boxing Club and her coach for eight of those years, Jimmy Halpin.

“To get Kellie to where she is now is incredible,” Halpin told The42 after watching her semi-final win.

“It’s been such a difficult road for her. She’s had obstacles in her way such as lack of funding. She’s made so many sacrifices to get to where she is now.

“It’s a great thing for me as a coach. The most satisfying thing for me is how positive she is, there’s a sense of confidence coming from her.”

Halpin spoke of how he had a conversation with her over the phone after her win against Kali.

It was quite an emotional conversation. She’s over the moon with herself, but she’s not stopping there. She wants to change the silver to gold.

“To fight five fights in basically six days at top level, elite level, it’s massive. It’s amazing, especially when you take into consideration the lack of international experience she was allowed.”

Halpin, who formerly coached Darren Sutherland, praised IABA President Pat Ryan for his work to raise the standard of female boxing in Ireland.

“Something had to be done for women’s boxing, it’s growing and progressing at a rapid pace. There was a lack of funding and government support in order to bring these girls, like Kellie to the fore.

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“Pat Ryan’s training camp in January was essential preparation. This is why the girls have performed so well.

“We’re going to be left behind unless action is taken quite quickly. We need support and we need it now.”

Looking to this afternoon’s final against third-seeded Wenlu Yang of China, Halpin is more than confident in Harrington’s ability.

“I’ve seen the Chinese girl fight, she’s a top fighter. She’s evasive, she has terrific movement, but she has never come across a Kellie Harrington before.

“I’m confident Kellie will have the edge.”

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Emma Duffy

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