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Boxing will survive the test of time: Billy Walsh

The recent years have been turbulent for boxing with the international boxing federation caught in an administrative mess.

other sports Updated: Nov 13, 2018 09:14 IST
Avishek Roy
Avishek Roy
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Billy Walsh,Boxing,AIBA congress
File picture of Billy Walsh(Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Billy Walsh is a reputed name in boxing. He has coached two of the most successful women boxers --- Katie Taylor of Ireland and Claressa Shields of the US to Olympic glory.

As head coach of Ireland boxing, Walsh has taken the sport to new heights in his native country. Under him, Ireland won seven Olympic medals since 2000. Since October 2015 he has been the coach of USA team and has achieved success there as well. Currently touring India with the US team, Walsh is optimistic that boxing will survive the current impasse that has put the sport’s future in doubt for the Tokyo Olympics.

“Boxing is too valuable a sport to be taken out of Olympics. Every four years a lot of people tune in to see boxing at the Olympics. The sport has always been part of the Olympic Games,” he said.

The recent years have been turbulent for boxing with the international boxing federation caught in an administrative mess. The AIBA congress recently elected controversial Uzbek businessman Gafur Rakhimov as president of the body. The International Olympic Committee had already warned AIBA that Rakhimov’s election could jeopardize boxing’s future. The IOC will discuss the fallout in its board meeting next month.

“If the governance is not correct, IOC will deal with that. AIBA is doing everything within their power to make it part of the Olympic Games,” he adds. The scoring too has been under the scanner since the Rio Olympics which witnessed several controversial bouts.

Walsh is of the opinion that AIBA needs to have highly skilled referees and judges to make scoring more transparent. “At the end of day all systems are subject to people using them. If people using them are right and well trained we will definitely have the right decisions. People who are judging and refereeing need to be highly skilled and developed to see that the right person wins the contest.”

Women’s boxing has seen a transformation since it was introduced as an Olympic sport in 2012. As Ireland coach, Walsh has played a major role in the rise of Katie Taylor, who won five world championships gold medal besides London Olympics gold.

“It has come up leaps and bounds. It is growing all the times. The quality of fighting has got so better. I am from a little country called Ireland and we had Katie Taylor who was a leader in women’s boxing from many years. She took women’s boxing to new heights in Ireland and throughout the world.”

“In USA we had Shields who has won two Olympic gold medals, the only American boxer ever to do that. Girls look up to them. Lot of girls have taken to boxing because of them. So women’s boxing is growing in popularity. There’s more and more talent coming up and it is becoming more and more difficult to become a world champion,” says Walsh, who is on his third visit to India. His first was as a boxer in 1990. “I remember the boxing competition was held in cricket ground in Bombay. I love coming back to India.”

First Published: Nov 13, 2018 08:32 IST