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Okungbowa planning to add to his collection following World Universities bronze

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Kenny Okungbowa proved his elite-level credentials in Thailand last week with a bronze medal-winning display at the World University Championships.

The exciting Athlone heavyweight defeated Lithuanian Tadas Tamasauskas before being edged out by Frenchman Dylan Bregeon in the semi finals in Chiang Mai.

It was Okungbowa’s first major tournament in an Irish vest and the AIT student told that “it was a great feeling to represent my country and college.”

While Belfast’s Paddy Barnes held the tricolour aloft at the Olympic opening ceremony, the honour was given to the distinctly larger Okungbowa in South East Asia, and he admitted that “it was a great boost, when got to be the flag bearer for the opening ceremony of the championships, I was proud to wear the Irish vest.”

It’s often said that a fighter’s opening bout at a championships are the most nervy, and in Thailand Okungbowa was given a bye into the quarter finals. His first major fight for Ireland, with a medal on the line, and having seen team-mate Christina Desmond guarantee bronze just hours earlier, the Midlander would have been forgiven for feeling the pressure. However, he described how “I honesty felt no pressure at all. It was just another day.

“I had no nerves at all. I had an excellent training camp in my build-up to these World Championships.”

“As my coach Rory Parks always says ‘go in there and do the business.'”

“I had Paddy Gallagher [team coach] and some wise words from Brian Wallace [father of team-mate Conor Wallace] so I had good advice coming to the corner each round.”

Okungbowa arrives back to Ireland with bronze medal in a major championships and he noted how “it proves what I already know myself.”

“It feels great to have a medal around my neck.”

Next up is the National Elites in early 2017, and the National Stadium regular is hoping to claim top prize and assert himself as Ireland’s top heavyweight following a hugely successful 2016. Looking ahead, Okungbowa agreed that “the Irish Elite Championships 91kg strap would be one of the accolades I’m planning to add to my collection.”

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: