(DEC 2) Great news for
Irish boxing fans Friday with confirmation that interim Head
Coach Zauri Antia has been appointed to the role on a full time
basis until 2021 despite considerable offers from the National
Boxing Associations of Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia and Canada and
MGM Gym in Marbella. He will thus be in place for the Tokyo
Olympics of 2020.
Photo credit/courtesy - iaba.ie
Antia will serve as Head Coach
having first joined the Irish High Performance Team in 2003.
Originally, Zauri’s focus was on the men’s team but over the
last 18 months he has also had an increasing involvement with
the women’s High-Performance system.
Antia is delighted to be in a position to remain.
He said: “I am delighted on both a personal and professional
basis to commit to Irish boxing. Ireland has been home for my
family and I for the last 13 years and I am delighted that we
are in a position to stay. I am also very excited about
remaining part of the Irish High-Performance system.
“We are, as is normal after any Olympic Games, in a period of
transition but there remains a significant amount of talent and
potential in the system as evidenced by the medals won by our
team at the World Youth Championships in Russia last week and I
am confident that with the right support and investment we can
deliver future success.
“I am also looking forward to becoming more involved with the
women’s programme and feel that the medals we won at the recent
World and European Championships is evidence of the strides made
in women’s boxing here.”
IABA CEO, Fergal Carruth said: “I am thrilled that we have
managed to fight off some tough competition from other countries
to retain the coaching expertise of Zauri within the Irish High
Performance programme. He has been an integral part of all the
success achieved by Irish boxing since his arrival in 2003.
“His decision to stay is a vote of confidence in the future of
Irish boxing and in the significant talent within the system
across our men’s and women’s programmes.”
So as we say, great news for not only Zauri Antia, who has been
of course one of Katie Taylor’s coaches and close friends for
many years including at London 2012, but also for the entire
women’s programme though one would hope that the AIBA allows him
to appoint a Senior Manager, responsible to him, for the entire
women’s sport for no one person can hope to successful manage
all Irish teams at every grade.
Insofar as the women’s sport is concerned it would also,
pre-Tokyo be a good idea to start introducing more women’s
coaches especially those who have fought at Senior international
level for Ireland and who might not be boxing when Tokyo comes
around, great competitors like for example Joanne Lambe and
Dervla Duffy , for no one who has not herself boxed for her
country at senior level will have experience as those great
One has only to look at the success of England and GB Boxing
since former lightweight champion Amanda Coulson joined to see
how much the young English girls have benefited from her
presence at tournaments and at the England Centre of Excellence
in Sheffield. Ireland, despite Taylor’s move to the Pro’s have
some very talented young female boxers, for example 20 years old
Christina Desmond, Grainne Walsh from Sparticus (also 20) and
Kelly Harrington from Glasnevin, a silver medallist at the 2016
Women’s Worlds in Astana with others pushing them hard like Amy
Broadhurst, Lauren Hogan and Donna Barr.
Another who should be part of Antia’s team is Edenderry’s Liam
Morley Brereton who has done so much for Irish boxing in recent
years and who incidentally is in the throes of setting up a new
Centre of Excellence in Edenderry. Very surprising that the IABA
of today have seemingly no room for Brereton in their present
set up. His coaching experience throughout Europe and beyond
would be invaluable as indeed has been his ability to find
funding for the women’s sports something which the IABA has
always found difficult.
We wish Zauri well in his endeavours not only for the sport in
general but particularly for the women’s sport which has been
badly neglected in recent years. Things won’t change overnight
though but this is a start provided that he is given the back up
and has full authority for the teams and not having to account
to IABA Ltd or Executive Council to approve his selections.
There is no better Technical Coach in the world today than Antia
as shown by the number of nations who have been trying to prise
him away from his beloved Bray. Who knows what the future holds
- perhaps one day a certain Katie Taylor, who still trains near
Bray when not in USA, may once again reunite with the Georgian
native who has made such a huge impact on the Irish boxing scene
Former Olympians like Darren O’Neill, Team Captain from London
2012 and Kenny Egan, an Olympic medallist in Beijing 2008 should
also be invited to be part of the Antia backroom team for the
future as well as the aforementioned Lambe and Duffy.