In what was his first full year with USA Boxing, Wexford’s Billy Walsh has been named ‘Best Coach’ by AIBA during their end of year awards gala in Montreux, Switzerland.
Walsh left the Irish set-up amidst much controversy last year, but has been a roaring success with the Colorado-based US Team, initially coming in as solely the women’s coach but soon becoming involved in almost every aspect of the programme.
Walsh was in the corner as Claressa Shields retained her World and Olympic middleweight golds, as well as ending the US men’s Olympic medal drought with bronze in Rio from Nico Hernández (49kg) and silver from Shakur Stevenson (56kg).
Walsh was also in the corner at the World Youth Championships in St Petersburg last month to see Marc Castro (56kg) and Delante Johnson (60kg) claim gold, with Richard Torrez (+91kg) taking bronze.
During his acceptance speech, Walsh light-heartedly noted how “They have me down [on the monitor] as ‘IRL’, that should probably be ‘USA’, actually! But it’s a great tribute to the system I come from, and that’s Ireland.”
“Growing up as a seven-year-old I never thought I’d be standing here today, receiving this award. That time, in the working class estate where I come from, there was one man who was a boxing coach. And he brought me, from a seven-year-old to a 25-year-old, to the Olympic Games. So, I’m very, very thankful for that man – Eddie Byrne.”
Olympic champions Hasanboy Dusmatov (M49kg) and Nicola Adams (W51kg) won the Fighter of the Year awards, while the Women’s Elite World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan, in May were named event of the year. The Cuba Domadores were crowned Best WSB Team and India’s Vakas Krishan won Best APB Boxer. Cuban David Morrell was named Best Youth Boxer.
Joe O’Neill and Gavan Casey look ahead to 2017 in episode 1 of The Irish Boxing Show