- Published on Thursday, 30 August 2012 15:13
Boxing sensation Katie Taylor, the pride of Ireland, went from being a star in her homeland to a global superstar and national treasure after her domineering performances at the ExCeL London saw her clinch the women’s Lightweight (60kg) Olympic gold medal. Already a four-time AIBA World Champion, Taylor mesmerised the crowds in the British capital with her stylish technique, bringing with her thousands of supporters every time she took to the ring in some of the most unforgettable moments of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Born in Bray to a boxing mad family back in 1986, just as her father Peter Taylor became Irish National Light Heavyweight Champion, Katie Taylor grew up watching him shadow box in their home and copied his every move. She then began boxing at the St. Fergal’s Boxing Club with her father as her coach at the age of twelve.
She started her international career in 2004 by winning the Norway’s Box Cup and the Italian International Tournament in Cascia. She quickly followed that up by claiming the gold medal at the European Women’s Championships in Tonsberg, Norway, where she triumphed over Turkey’s Gulsum Tatar and the tough Eva Wahlstroem from Finland.
Katie Taylor continued her winning streak as she defended her European title in Warsaw in 2006 before that same year reaching the top of the podium at the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in New Delhi, India, which was her first global achievement. Taylor dominated all of her contests and was also awarded the best boxer trophy. She defended her throne again at the 2007 European Championships in Vejle and then put in some memorable performances to claim gold at the 2008 AIBA Women's World Championships in Ningbo City. In recognition from her achievements since her big breakthrough on the international stage, she was awarded the AIBA Female Boxer of the Year trophy in 2008.
When the IOC included women’s boxing into the Olympic program, Taylor was one of the happiest people in the world as she had always dreamt of competing on the biggest stage of all. Taking to the ring at the London 2012 Olympic Games was now a tangible reality for the electric orthodox fighter with her weight category one of those chosen ones.
Following her next European title in 2009, she won the Lightweight gold at the 6th edition of the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships in Bridgetown in 2010 after a huge semi-final battle against US boxer Quanitta Underwood. Taylor then suffered two unexpected losses in international tournaments but came back a much stronger fighter from those experiences as she dominated the 2011 European Championships in Rotterdam. In the Netherlands, she defeated her main rival Russia’s Sofya Ochigava to claim the title.
Taylor and Ochigava met again in the final of the 7th edition of the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships in Qinhuangdao where the Irish favourite once again dominated her Russian rival to take the title and the best boxer trophy. Her victory in China saw her also qualify for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
She was the favourite for the Olympic crown in the British capital, and with thousands of travelling supporters there to cheer her own, she came through three tough tests to claim the gold medal and cement her status as one of the icons of women’s boxing.
It had been twenty years, two decades, since Ireland had a boxer crowned Olympic Champion, not since Michael Carruth's Welterweight title at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Taylor changed all that after triumphing in the Lightweight final against her main rival Sofya Ochiga. In the end it was one of the most successful Olympics in the history of Irish boxing with John Joseph Nevin taking the men’s Bantamweight (56kg) silver and Patrick Barnes and Michael Conlan rewarded with bronze medals for their efforts in the Light Fly (46-49kg) and Flyweight (52kg) categories respectively.
Irish President Michael D. Higgins personally congratulated Katie Taylor on her historic feat. She had wowed the crowds so much that she was also awarded the Best Women's Boxer Trophy in London. Many expect now that there will be millions of young boys and girls worldwide who will be wanting to put on a pair of gloves to try and emulate the Irish National icon. To do that, they will need to be as dedicated to boxing as she has been, training twice daily, six days a week.