Kurt Walker wins GOLD at European Union Championships

Kurt Walker is the champion of the European Union!

The Lisburn bantamweight defeated long-time rival Peter McGrail in the finals of the championships this evening following a stunning performance in Spain.

Walker edged his English counterpart on a 3-2 split following a tremenduous final in the city of Valladolid.

The Canal 23-year-old and his foe were more than familiar with each other having shared the ring before, most notably in the final of the Commonwealth Games in Australia earlier this year. McGrail won on a unanimous decision that April morning Down Under but Walker would have his revenge for what is the biggest win of his career.

The fight began at a fast pace but defences were initially on top, with little landing clean. Reigning European champion McGrail did sneak home two left hands which may have stolen the round but was cut to the side of the right eye and would go toe-to-toe with the Irishman.

A better second from Walker saw him land a clean backhand right that stiffened the legs of southpaw McGrail but did take a huge hook to the side of the head himself. Following a unanimous round to McGrail in the first, this stanza was split 3-2 in favour of Walker meaning it all came down to the third and Walker duly put in three of the best minutes of his life.

A top class round, both set their feet more but it was Walker who was landing the greater number of shots and slipping much of McGrail’s work to take the session across the board and seal the win.

Celebrating along with coaches John Conlan and Eoin Pluck at the bell, Walker had a nervous wait before he was confirmed winner and, in the end, it could not have been closer – with three 29-28s in his favour against a pair of 29-28s for McGrail.

The fabulous win sees Walker add a gold medal to the silver and bronze he won at the Commonwealth Games and European Championships respectively over the last year and a half and is a real statement made by the Antrim man ahead of 2019 when the Tokyo Olympic cycle really heats up.

EU Elite Championships Valladolid, Spain
November 9th
Prelims (last 16)
52kg Conor Quinn (Ireland) lost to Rosenov Banbakov (Bulgaria) 1-4
56kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) beat Stefan Ivanov (Bulgaria) 5-0
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Ireland) lost to Frazer Clarke (England) 1-4

November 10th
Prelims (last 16)
69kg Kieran Molloy (Ireland) beat Ruben Veciunoa (Belgium) 5-0
91kg Kirill Afanasev (Ireland) beat David Michalek (Slovakia) 4-1

November 11th
Prelims (last 16)
64kg Wayne Kelly (Ireland) beat Petr Novak (Czech Republic) 5-0

November 12th
Prelims (last 16)
75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) beat Stephan Nikitin (Germany) 5-0

November 13th
64kg Wayne Kelly (Ireland) lost to Dmitry Galogot (Moldova) 0-5
69kg Kieran Molloy (Ireland) beat Vincenzo Arecchiai (Italy) 3-1-1

November 14th
91kg Kirill Afanasev (Ireland) lost to Toni Filipi (Croatia) 0-5

November 15th
56kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) beat Jaroslav Iwanow (Poland) 5-0
75kg Michael Nevin (Ireland) lost to Carl Fail (England) 1-3

November 17th
56kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) beat Artyush Gomtsyan (Georgia) 5-0
69kg Kieran Molloy (Ireland) lost to Pat McCormack (England) 0-5

November 18th
56kg Kurt Walker (Ireland) beat Peter McGrail (England) 3-2

Irish squad
52kg Conor Quinn (Clonard BC)
56kg Kurt Walker (Canal BC) (GOLD)
64kg Wayne Kelly (Portlaoise BC)
69kg Kieran Molloy (Oughterard BC) (Bronze)
75kg Michael Nevin (Portlaoise BC)
91kg Kirill Afanasev (Smithfield BC)
91kg+ Dean Gardiner (Clonmel BC)

Team Manager: Stephen Molloy
Coaches: John Conlan & Eoin Pluck
Physiotherapist: Seamus Caffrey
Team Doctor: Jim Clover- Team Doctor
Sports Physiologist: Damian Martin
Referee & Judge: Jim Murrin

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)


Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie