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Emmet Brennan sees shades of Kellie Harrington in Gold Medal Dublin Teen

Ireland’s next big boxing star, Ava Henry, has that Kellie Harrington kind of steel according to Emmet Brennan.

As a clubmate of the newly crowned European Junior Champion and a close friend and former International teammate to Dublin darling, Harrington, Brennan is well-versed in the qualities of both.

The Olympian claims they share one essential characteristic – they are winners that will try to succeed at all costs, and he points out the 16-year-old proved as much with her brilliant final win in Italy on Tuesday.

“One thing I’ll say about her character is she is a winner. She is like Kellie that way. I’ve seen her have bad spars and they eat away at her, she has a real win-at-all-costs approach,” he told the Dublin Gazette.

Henry needed that resilience and determination to ensure she climbed to the top of the lightweight podium in the under-16 continental tournament this week. The Dubliner found herself trailing after the first round of a quality-packed decider, a position statistics suggest is nigh on impossible to come back from. However, the Dublin Dockland’s prospect ignored the gold medal death knell and produced one of the best-ever Irish final displays to ensure she adds European Junior gold to the 2019 European Schools silver that already populates her trophy cabinet.

“It was a tough close fight,” Brennan adds. “She was down in the first and she showed what she is about by coming back into it. That second-round performance was brilliant. She really went for it, closing down the ring and putting on the pressure. She showed all her ability in that round, she adjusted and came out stronger. For her now going forward it’s about doing that over three rounds.”

It may sound surprising to some but the Tokyo Olympian, who plans to enter the Irish Elites in January before turning pro, was happy to see his Dublin Docklands club mate have it tough and have to overcome adversity throughout the tournament.

The 31-year-old believes the European Junior Co-Captain is head and shoulders above a lot of fighters at her age domestically, so such tests can only help her development. Not to mention it allows the 16-year-old to show just how much of a talent she is.

“I’m happy she was in against a girl that good. No disrespect to any boxers but she isn’t tested domestically, she is just too good. It was good to see her evenly matched. That girl she fought [in the final] was very good and so was the Czech girl she fought in the [preliminary round]. She had to show real guts and composure under pressure in both fights. It also shows just how good she is beating girls of that level.”

Just how good is she? One of the best according to Brennan. The latest along the Irish lightweight production line and a future star of Irish boxing.

“Talent-wise I haven’t seen much better at that age. I honestly believe she is the next big star out of Ireland. I never had a second thought about that.”

The popular Dubliner, whose stubborn will to succeed seen him defy the odds to reach Tokyo, also reveals Henry has the other qualities needed to succeed.  

“She is always training. She never misses a session and she works as hard as anyone. She is confident but not arrogant and she is a great person to have around the gym. She is not one bit shy. She is one of a few girls surrounded by 40 or so blokes and she is not one bit intimated and is good craic.”


Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years