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DOUBLE GOLD – Amy Broadhurst & Lisa O’Rourke make history at World Championships

Perhaps the greatest afternoon in the history of Irish boxing has just taken place in Istanbul.

Amy Broadhurst and Lisa O’Rourke have both taken gold at the Women’s World Championships in Turkey, winning their finals at the Başakşehir Youth and Sports Facility.

Dundalk light welterweight Broadhurst decisively defeated Algerian Imane Khelif before Roscommon bolter O’Rourke edged past Mozambican Alcinda Panguana to claim top prize at light middleweight

Prior to today just Katie Taylor and Kellie Harrington had topped the podium for Ireland at the Women’s World Championships – indeed they were the only two Irish medallists – along with a male gold for Mick Conlan, but the next generation showed there is no end to the conveyor belt of talent on our small island despite the dysfunctional organisations within which they operate.

For Broadhurst it was the big breakthrough she had promised for years while young O’Rourke has become a household name in the space of a few days.

Along with the medals, and seemingly guaranteed ‘Podium’ funding of €40,000 from Sport Ireland next year, the two will both receive $100,000 from the International Boxing Association, but money was the last thing either would be thinking about as they etched their names in the history books.

Since losing to a Harrington in the Olympic quarter-finals, Khelif has stepped up in weight and gone on a run of three successive gold medals at multi-nations tournaments. In Turkey, the Algerian won four fights to reach the final, decisively overcoming opponents from Kazakhstan, Latvia, Greece, and the Netherlands.

By comparison, Broadhurst’s route to a World final has been a long and winding one. Cruelly denied a medal at light welterweight in 2018, the Louth fighter got her shot in her preferred lightweight division in 2019 due to an injury to Harrington only to again fall at the quarter-final stage, that time versus the imperious Mira Potkonen.

Out of the running for Tokyo, Broadhurst did travel to Japan to provide sparring and, more recently, could be found on the US East Coast helping Katie Taylor to prepare for her clash with Amanda Serrano. While Olympic champion Harrington has not competed in Istanbul, her late withdrawal meant Broadhurst was tied to the 63kg division but she has still prospered, beating Croatian, Bulgarian, and Serbian opposition before digging deep to defeat Indian Parveen Hooda in yesterday’s semi-final

Now 25 and no longer ‘just’ a decorated underage boxer, this afternoon was Broadhurst’s moment in the spotlight and she took it with both hands. Khelif was, as expected tricky, but the St Bronagh’s boxer had her opponent worked out by the end of the first and never looked back from there.

Boasting a large height advantage, Khelif looked to keep it long in the opening exchanges as Broadhurst attempted to raid in, targetting the body especially. The greater aggression was coming from the Irishwoman in a cagey opener and this, along with a strong finish, saw Broadhurst edge the first on the cards 3-2.

More close quarters in the second, the pair took turns to send in volleys from mid-range, Broadhurst’s looking perhaps the heavier. Coming on very strong in the final minute again, Broadhurst put herself on the brink of gold, taking the stanza on all five cards to take a near-unassailable lead into the final round.

Up with three judges and level with the other two, Broadhurst needed to manage the third as Khelif looked to turn things around. The North African, though, was finding herself repeatedly tagged by backhand lefts by Broadhurst who saw out the fight to seal the victory.

Going to the cards in no doubt, Broadhurst was confirmed a unanimous winner, the scorelines reading 30-26 x2, 29-28 x3.

Leaving the ring, Broadhurst was instructed to return by coaches Zaur Antia and Eoin Pluck to soak in the moment as the Irish team cheered from the stands.

The celebrations for Broadhurst were paused, however briefly, as O’Rourke took to the ring in the very next bout in the 70kg final and the young Castlrea puncher made sure that they would be doubly sweet.

O’Rourke’s rise has been astounding. A European silver medallist at U16 and U18 level, her talent and potential had always been known but few had believed she could come this far this soon. Making her senior debut last year, O’Rourke was defeated in the Irish final by Evelyn Igharo but avenged this result in the national U22s and stormed to European gold at this level in March.

Stepping up in Turkey, where she celebrated her 20th birthday last Friday, the Castlerea talent has been imperious, first dominating a Congolese fighter before breezing past Dominican Olympian Maria Moronta. Established Armenian Ani Hovsepyan was next to fall, guaranteeing O’Rourke a medal, then home favourite Sema Caliskan was shocked to set up today’s decider.

Hailing from the relative boxing minnow of Mozambique, Panguana was an equally as unlikely finalist but the 28-year-old has more than proved her credentials. A quarter-finalist in Tokyo, the African Games silver medallist scored a stoppage win over Mexico to start her campaign in Istanbul before beating undefeated and fancied English/Cameroonian fighter Cindy Ngamba in the quarters and finishing strong to hurt and edge Kazkh former world champ Valentina Khalzova yesterday.

A noted puncher, Panguana put O’Rourke through the ringer but the youngster, an inter-county GAA player, was able to fight through the fire and landed the better shots to squeeze out a much-deserved victory.

The Mozambican came out aggressively in the first but was being timed by the long levers of the retreating O’Rourke. The pace was high and the strength of Panguana was evident but the better shots were coming from the Connacht boxer. The judges were split, with two favouring the pressing but, crucially, three went with O’Rourke but it was all still to fight for.

Panguana was no slick southpaw and came rushing after O’Rourke in the second but the footwork of the Irish boxer, now with Olympic BC in Galway, kept her largely out of range and she continued to sneak home scoring shots. As the round progressed the pair began to engage more with feet set, both landing, and the judges were split. While it 3-2 in favour of O’Rourke again, the way the scores fell meant she found herself up on two, down unassailably on one following a baffling 10-8, and level on two going into what would be a deciding final round.

Messy in the third as O’Rourke was the one to start pressing, both again landed heavy, heavy shots. The cleaner and more frequent work was coming from O’Rourke but the crunching impacts from Panguana were hard to ignore. Unlike with Broadhurst, we headed to the cards with shredded nerves.

The scores were split and the wait was long but, eventually, O’Rourke was confirmed the winner, 4-1, and the greatest half an hour in Irish amateur boxing history concluded.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: