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Billy Walsh set to become Head Coach of USA Women's Team in time for Kazakhstan and Rio
by Michael O'Neill
October 20, 2015

(OCT 20)  Barring an unlikely last minute ‘change of heart’ Ireland’s Head Performance Unit Coach, Billy Walsh seems destined to take over a similar role at USA Boxing in charge of their women’s team for the forthcoming 2016 AIBA World Elite championships in Kazakhstan and later of course for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Billy Walsh with Katie & Peter Taylor after London 2012

Walsh, who led the Irish team in Qatar last week to their best ever haul of Gold, Silver and Bronze medals and fourth place in the medal tables today tendered his resignation to Irish CEO Fergal Carruth and this was later accepted. This evening the IABA switchboard and that of funding masters Sport Ireland (Irish Sports Council) was inundated with calls from angry members of the Irish boxing fraternity and from the Irish media.

Just to remind readers that Billy Walsh and the Irish Sports Council had agreed in principle a new deal in talks with the IABA some weeks ago but astonishingly since it was the Irish Sports Council and NOT the IABA who were funding the package, the then IABA Executive and Boxing Council ‘vetoed’ the deal that their own team had only days previously agreed.

Today the IABA accepted his resignation but according to sources in the Irish capital their revised offer was for him to remain in office on their terms but only providing his services as a “contractor”. Most Irish boxing enthusiasts were astonished at this insult to one of the nation’s most successful coaches in any sport.

Walsh issued his own statement Monday:

“Regrettably the IABA has not made it possible for me to continue on in the role as Head Coach of the High Performance Unit and senior team,” he said.

Speaking on RTE Radio’s News at One, Walsh admitted it was the most difficult decision of his professional career but said he had no choice but to move on.

“It’s time for me to move on, I have a deadline as well with people from America who offered me a position as head coach,” he said.

“It was about respect around your role and position, to lead your team through to Rio.

“It’s a long-term venture which gives me a bit of security and it’s a fantastic opportunity.”

As to the longer term future, WBAN understands this could also lead to his taking charge of the USA Boxing men’s team well before Tokyo 2020.

“Mentally, it’s been very, very stressful over the last eight months. It has taken its toll in some ways,” he admitted.

“I spent a lot of time crying this morning around this decision, but I think for the best of my health, for my future, it’s the best way for me to move on.

“I went back time after time to try and make this work. For my own dignity and respect I felt I couldn’t stoop any lower.

On Monday evening among the first to react to the news of her friend and HPU coach’s departure was Olympic Gold medallist Katie Taylor.

Talking in Dublin, she said it was ‘a very sad day for Irish boxing’ - speaking in Dublin today, she said she was shocked and saddened by the news.

She described Walsh as an extraordinary man and an amazing coach who had done so much for the Irish boxing team and for her over the years.

She said she had hoped the situation would have been resolved with the boxing association and she said it was a big loss for Irish boxing.”

Ironically it is just possible that Walsh will now be coaching Mikaela Mayer or Tiara Brown or another United States hopeful, against Taylor in Kazakhstan or indeed in Rio.

Tonight (Oct. 19) the IABA issued its own statement saying:

“The Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) announces that it has accepted with regret the resignation of Billy Walsh as Head Coach of the High Performance Unit.

Commenting, Fergal Carruth, CEO of the IABA, said: “The IABA has been in discussions with Billy following his approach to the organisation to seek improved terms and conditions after he stated that he had received an offer from USA Boxing. The IABA is deeply disappointed not to retain his valued services, and for the avoidance of any doubt, the IABA has done its utmost to retain Billy Walsh as Head Coach. However, Billy himself has made the decision to resign and take up a position with USA Boxing, and we wish him every success with this.”

Among Irish media outlets, albeit prior to publishing of Tuesday’s early editions, SportsNewsIRELAND called for the immediate disbanding of the IABA and the formation of a new ‘Boxing Ireland’.

It’s banner headline read : “Billy Walsh resignation – IABA ‘not fit for purpose’ – for Goodness sake GO NOW!” Come Tuesday’s daily papers, the IABA will be under even greater fire with both media and boxing clubs and their coaches already commenting unfavourably.

The Irish Sports Council, a semi-state body which provides funding for the IABA also came under fire with SportsNews Ireland saying that they too need to look at their own position having allowed the IABA effectively to overrule them – they had already agreed a new package for Walsh weeks ago but the IABA boxing council changed their mind and then ignored the Irish Sports Council’s repeated calls for Walsh’s package to be approved.

Tonight the Irish Sports Council/Sport Ireland paid glowing tribute to Walsh and ended their lengthy statement with a comment which could well speak trouble for the IABA saying:

“Sport Ireland will now have to review the outcome of its recent engagement with the IABA.”

That could spell trouble for the IABA especially as Walsh’s departure is bound to be raised in the Irish Parliament this week.

At the time of writing there has been no official comment from USA Boxing though according to WBAN sources Walsh is due to travel to Colorado Springs on Wednesday.

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