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Ireland’s Greatest Olympic Boxers

Dempsey. Collins. McLarnin. These names (and many others like them) conjure up a magical mythos about the sport in the Emerald Isle. There are few nations in the world that have such a strong boxing history and love the sport the way the Irish do.

Over half of Ireland’s Olympic medals have come from boxing and the sport is now resurging in popularity thanks to a number of successful amateur performances at major competitions in recent years.

With Rio 2016 just around the corner, Irish boxing fans, punters, and fight fans in general will be obsessively analyzing the odds and potential matchups for another potential Irish Olympic medal run. Knowing which round your country’s boxer will win is what makes betting fun and interesting but getting started is what makes it difficult. If you’re new to this and want tips this great resource from will give you the top news, the best sites and it will explain all the sport betting odds before you get started.

But until then, here is our list of Ireland’s greatest Olympic boxers.

5) Johnny Caldwell
At just 18 years old, Johnny Caldwell was already the junior and senior flyweight champion of Ireland. Despite his young age, his inclusion on the Olympic team for the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne was a no-brainer.

Johnny Caldwell was one of four Irish boxers to medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
Johnny Caldwell was one of four Irish boxers to medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

After a first-round bye, the pride of Belfast would defeat fighters from Burma and Australia before losing to Romanian Mircea Dobrescu in the semis, receiving bronze. HIs career would not peak there, as Caldwell would win the world bantamweight crown just a few years later and finish his amateur and pro careers with an amazing record of 265 wins and 10 losses.


4) Michael Carruth
Ireland’s first gold medalist in boxing, and first in any sport since 1956, Michael Carruth more than lived up to his expectations as one of the favored welterweights at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Having won a bronze at the World Championships just three years prior, the Dublin native wasn’t scared of the big stage despite having to face the reigning World Champion, Cuba’s Juan Hernandez Sierra.


A late change in tactics caught the Cuban off-guard, and after the match went the distance it was Carruth that was victorious 13-10. His achievement was awarded by Irish Government with an instant promotion to Sergeant within the Irish Army.

3) Katie Taylor
Katie is not only regarded as one of the greatest female boxers in Ireland, but in the world. Ireland’s flag-bearer at the 2012 Olympics in London, the 60 kg’s performances have brought unprecedented attention to women’s boxing. The Bray product fought her first sanctioned fight at Ireland’s national stadium, and hasn’t stepped down from the big stage ever since.

 Olympic gold medalist Katie Taylor is one of the best female boxers in the world.
Olympic gold medalist Katie Taylor is one of the best female boxers in the world.

Among many, her accolades include five gold medals at the World Championships and six at the European Championships. Ireland united to cheer on Katie the Great at the 2012 Olympics in London, even setting an arena noise record during her semi-final defeat of Great Britain’s Natasha Jones. In the final she defeated Russian Sofya Ochigava 10-8, becoming the first Olympic female lightweight champion (women’s boxing was not included in the Olympic program before 2012).

2) Wayne McCullough
While “The Pocket Rocket” is much renowned for never being knocked down during his 34-fight professional career, Wayne McCullough’s amateur record is just as impressive. He was first asked to represent (and carry the flag for) Ireland at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul when he was just 18 years old. A third-round loss in South Korea would only whet his appetite for Olympic glory, and he’d return to the Games in 1992.

In Barcelona, Mccullough would sweep through four fighters before losing to Cuban Joel Casamayor in the final, earning bantamweight silver. He would turn pro shortly after the Olympics, having amassed a 319-11 record as an amateur, with over 100 of those wins coming by way of KO.

1) Paddy Barnes
The Irish love a good zero-to-hero story, and Paddy Barnes is one of the best. The only Irish boxer to medal twice at the Olympics, the light flyweight lost his first 15 fights as a teenager in Ardglass. But Barnes stuck with the sport, and a quarterfinal appearance at the 2007 World Championships earned him a spot at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. There he fought his way into the semis before losing to eventual gold medalist Zou Shiming (the same boxer that defeated him at the WCs).

At the 2016 Summer Olympics, Paddy Barnes will try and become the first Irish boxer to medal three times.

Johnny Caldwell was one of four Irish boxers to medal at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

After winning golds at the European Amateur Championships and the Commonwealth Games (representing Northern Ireland), Paddy returned to the Olympic stage where he would once again draw Zou in the semis. Despite an admirable performance that finished 15-15, Paddy would lose 45-44 via countback. He’ll compete for a third straight medal this summer at Rio.



Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years