All Hail Our Olympians

21 August 2008 – by Mark Doyle

Like most of you, I have been following the Irish lads at the Olympics and to see them doing so well is incredible. Its fantastic for them and for Irish boxing.

After the dust settles, all of the talk will be about whether or not they will turn professional. It is a big decision but if they decide to do so, having a medal will do their marketing and bargaining no harm at all.

I won a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in 1994, which was great for me.

A good medal means you can go to a promoter and get a good contract out of it. So, when they come back I would advise them to take a rest and enjoy themselves. Theyve obviously worked very hard and theyll need that rest. They should then have received offers from promoters but they should let them simmer and think things through before making any decisions.

As someone from Belfast, I was so proud to see Paddy Barnes, a boxer from my old club (Holy Family), in the medals. Paddy Barnes has Gerry Storey behind him a great man and a great coach.

After Paddy lost his first 15 fights, for Gerry to turn him in to such a quality Olympian is amazing. I went to Gerry Storey as an amateur and he brought me on so well. Under him I won the Commonwealth Games and won a bronze at the World Junior Championships. So he has done for me what he has done for Paddy Barnes.

It is not for me to say who should and who shouldnt turn professional because I dont know how they will adapt. I found that it took me a while to fit in to the pro game and there are more differences now between the two codes than there were then.

At least when I was coming through there were three rounds of three minutes in the amateurs now it is four twos. It is also completely different with the computer scoring and you need to learn to slow yourself down in the professionals.

If the guys go pro they will need time to adapt. They will find it hard not necessarily the opponents they will face at the start – but that they will be out of their comfort zones and will have to learn completely new gameplans and skills.

On a personal note, Im just home from a lovely break in New York where I was over to visit Brian Burke, his wife Donna and his daughter Kayla. They spoiled me. I had a great time and did very little training.

I think I needed the break after my challenge for the EU title in Italy. Im back in the gym with John Breen preparing for a big one in October. I cant disclose the details of it just yet unfortunately but it is going to be announced in the coming weeks and I am very excited about it.

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