Seconds Out: Boxing stars send messages of support to Euro hopeful Kyle Smith
HOLY Trinity talent Kyle Smith will board the plane to Tbilisi with a spring in his step after receiving messages of support from a host of big names in Belfast boxing – including former two-weight world champion Carl Frampton.
‘The Jackal’ is currently in Philadelphia finishing off a training camp ahead of his August 10 showdown with Mexico’s Emmanuel Dominguez, but took time out to send a video message to Smith.
The 13-year-old has been named in the Irish team bound for the European schoolboy/girl championships, and leaves for the Georgian capital along with his team-mates and coaches on Thursday.
Boxing is scheduled to begin on Sunday.
“All the best kid, do the business,” said Frampton.
“I’m right behind you - good luck.”
Messages of support also came from three-time Olympian Paddy Barnes, WBO European light-heavyweight champion Steven Ward and European Games gold medallist Kurt Walker, as well as Holy Trinity stable-mates past and present, Sean McComb, Lewis Crocker, Caoimhin Agyarko and Barry McReynolds.
“Carl’s a big hero to all the young lads, so it was lovely for him to do that for Kyle,” said Holy Trinity coach Michael Hawkins.
“He’s promised to come down to the club some time after his next fight and meet the lads, so we’ll hopefully run a wee show and have a really good night.
“But, from Kyle’s point of view, this is a great opportunity in his first major international competition. He’s ready for it, and the wee lad is just mad about boxing -he absolutely loves it, but he’s very good at school as well. He’s very sporty, real all-rounder.
“He was sparring Clepson dos Santos before the All-Irelands there, they had some great spars, and I said to him after one of them ‘you got caught a few shots there’, and he said ‘well, if you go swimming you’re going to get wet’.
“I had to laugh. That wasn’t him being cheeky; other kids might have been a bit downbeat, but Kyle’s very witty and it was funny the way he came out with it. He’s sharp, he’s on the ball, a pleasant lad to work with.
“Hopefully he can go out here and do well.”
"Kyle and the club are delighted to get these messages of support; they really mean a lot," added Michael Hawkins jr.
"Those fighters have all come through big tests in their careers, and it's inspiring for the kids to know they are behind them all the way."
Smith won’t be the only Ulster representative in action in Tbilisi, though, with Patrick Stokes from the St John’s club in Swatragh selected at 59kg, Carrickmore’s Thomas Ward at 68kg and Carleigh Irving from Illies Golden Gloves at 46kg.
It has been a memorable few weeks for Irving, who won the 46kg Irish cadet title before coming up trumps in her first international contest, defeating Italy’s Lambo Mariagrazia in a schoolgirl international in Edenderry.
Earlier this month Ward impressed en route to his victory over John Paul Mongan, who boxes out of the Our Lady of Lourdes club in Limerick, while the improving Stokes also gets the nod for international duty after the eye of coaches at the stadium.
“Patrick started the club when he was seven years old and has won Derry titles and Ulster titles,” said St John’s coach Ciaran Quinn.
“He’s been very unlucky in Dublin, losing three All-Ireland finals on a 3-2 decision each time. This season he’s moved up the weights to 59kg and is a big lad for 14 years old.
“Hopefully this opportunity to box for his country will give him the boost he needs, and everybody at the club wishes him all the best.”
European Schoolboy/girl championships in Tbilisi, Georgia (August 4-12)
38.5kg: K Ducque-Griffin (Drimnagh); 40kg: R Farrelly-Colgan (Avona); 41.5kg: S Tyndall (Dublin Docklands); 43kg: K Smith (Holy Trinity); 44.5kg: M Kemel Fekkar Davis (Monkstown, Dublin); 46kg: B Fitzgerald (Corinthians); 48kg: P Stapleton (Monkstown, Dublin); 50kg: J O’Reilly-Thornhill (Togher); 52kg: L McEvoy (Avona); 54kg: C Byrne (Enniskerry); 56kg: L Connors (St Mary’s, Dublin); 59kg: P Stokes (St John’s, Derry); 62kg: M McCarthy (Urlingford); 68kg: T Ward (Carrickmore); 72kg: R Collins-Murphy (Neilstown); 76kg: C Devlin (Mark Heagney); 80kg: B Cawley (St David’s, Naas); 90kg: A Olaniyan (Jobstown); 90-105kg: D O’Brien (Shadows)
34-36kg: C Mullarney (Ballyhaunis); 38kg: C Kinsella (St Anthony’s); 40kg: S McCrudden (Riverside); 42kg: K O’Keeffe (Kanturk); 44kg: E Lambe (Setanta); 46kg: C Irving (Illies GG); 48kg: N Jackman (Paulstown); 51kg: G Dunne-McGovern (Drimnagh); 54kg: N Keogh (Olympic, Mullingar); 57kg: A King (Ratoath GG); 60kg: G Mongan (Whitechurch); 64kg: AR Henry-Lyndon (Glin); 70kg: B Tobin (Spartan)
IABA president: D O’Rourke (St Michael’s, Athy)
Team managers: S Connolly (Curragh), J O’Sullivan (Sliabh Luachra)
Coaches: E Carr (St Michael’s, Athy), P Gallagher (Maynooth), J O’Neill (Clann Naofa), M Donovan (OLOL), K Walsh (Dungarvan), P Archbold (St David’s, Naas)
R&J: M O’Neill (St Saviours)
FORMER IRISH COACH WALH TO STAY ON WITH USA
FORMER Ireland head coach Billy Walsh has revealed he will be staying in America beyond next summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The Wexford man’s contract with USA Boxing is up at the end of those Games, but he says talks are at an advanced stage for him to remain in Colorado for another Olympic cycle.
“We had a conversation about it recently, so we’re going to get it tied down before December. USA boxing are really happy with what’s going on, with the development of the team,” said Walsh, whose USA team brought home three medals from the last Olympics in Rio three years ago.
“It’s wasn’t really a big decision for me - it’s a great place to live, I’m enjoying it, I’m learning, evolving, the team’s evolving. I know I’m going to have to have a new team after Tokyo but we’re really focused on this team, it’s a really good team and we’ve set a really high standard for ourselves.
“We want to be the best team in the world, and we’re working at it.”
Walsh enjoyed considerable success during his 12 year involvement with the high performance unit in Dublin as Ireland became a major force in the international arena once again, performing impressively on the World, European and Olympic stage.
He left that role in acrimonious circumstances in late 2015 following a long-running dispute with the Irish Athletic Boxing Association, but was back on home soil last month, bringing members of his USA team to a multi-nation training camp in Jordanstown.
It proved the perfect preparation for the Irish team that was heading out to the European Games, but also for the USA boxers getting ready for the Pan-American Games in Peru, which are taking place at the moment.
“It was a really good camp - the Italians were there, the Indians, Romania, a couple of Dutch guys.
“Out of all those teams that went to the European Games, they did really well, and Ireland did really well too, they got more medals than we got at the first one.
It was a fantastic performance for the Irish team.
“I was glad we were able to help, and I’d have no doubt that the quality of sparring from the guys and girls I had over with me helped get them ready for it.”