Tony Browne is adamant he goes to in the European Games as Ireland’s number 1 heavyweight on merit.
The St Michael’s man,s place as #1 was put in doubt of late as five weeks after what looked like his first ever Irish amateur title win the heavyweight National Elite Championship for 2019 was handed to final opponent Ken Okungbowa upon an appeal. (The process explained HERE).
Going by common perception the victor on Seniors finals night is generally deemed in Olympic qualifying pole and can generally be confident of being the selected to represent Ireland in the International tournaments scheduled for that year.
With that in mind there were those who thought Athlone’s Okungbowa would be the the heavyweight to wear the Irish crest at the upcoming European Games and for any Olympic qualifiers over the next year or so.
However, Browne has been selected at heavy for the next International excursion and explains he is there on merit. The well supported amateur, who has been transitioning from light heavy to heavy in a bid to keep his Olympic dream alive, is keen to focus on moving forward and is determined not to add any fuel to any degree of controversial fire surrounding the incident.
In fairness the Steven O’Rourke trained Tokyo hopeful does a brilliant job at fighting that fire explaining that he has been chosen on merit. Browne explains that all amateurs are monitored continuously and selection is based around that ongoing assessment rather than National Elite Final’s result.
“Obviously there was a lot of controversy over the result of the Elite final but that’s been dealt with now and there’s no more to be said on it,” a keen to look forward Browne told Irish-Boxing.com.
“I just kept my head down and kept working hard looking at the bigger picture. We were all given a fair opportunity during assessments with the High Performance and I was selected for the European Games so now I’m just focused on what lies ahead and what I need to do to achieve my goals.”
With the High Performance continuously assessing things it’s possible Okungbowa or indeed any other fighter could be picked for International competition over the next 12 months, but for now Browne has done enough and impressed enough to ensure he is deemed the best heavyweight in the land.
Rather than look back at the final and how it played out he is determined to ensure he continues to work hard to ensure he is in pole position when it comes to selection for the Worlds, from where he could book a place on the plan to Tokyo.
“With the way the set up is now we’re constantly being assessed. We can’t become complacent. After the Europeans they’ll be looking at us again to pick the team for the World Championships. Everyone will be gunning for a spot on that team so it’s really important to stay focused and continue to put in the hard work. Tokyo is just around the corner, so every tournament, every day, every session from here on in counts.”
However, he claims not only is he becoming more comfortable at the weight, but he is feels he is now comfortable as an International boxer tasked with competing at world level.
“I’m getting more and more comfortable at the weight. I’ve got great people around me both inside and outside of the high performance so everything is starting to fall into place at the right time. I’m glad I made the move to heavyweight as I feel it suits me to the ground. I really do believe I can achieve big things internationally.”
“This is my first major tournament for Ireland. I’m really excited for the challenge ahead because I know it will bring the best out of me. It’s a great opportunity for me and I’m grateful to be in this position coming into such a big year for us. I’m starting to mature as an international fighter and I feel I am improving all the time. The best is definitely yet to come.”
“I’m aiming for the top of that podium and I’m gonna put myself through hell to get there. I set a goal to get myself to the Tokyo Olympics a year before the Rio Olympics. Everything is moving in the right direction now but for me it’s important to focus on the incremental improvements to be made daily. That’s what will get me to where I want to be.”