Irish Boxing's Golden Girl

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As the nation celebrates Katie Taylor's triumphant return to Ireland, we take a look back to 2009 when Katie was VOX magazine's cover girl and Sports Writer Dan Tabb asked her about her sport and her faith.

Here's a chance to re-read that interview. It is remarkable considering that three years later, the Chariots of Fire theme tune was playing as Katie accepted her gold medal!

By Dan Tabb

At the age of 10, many girls skip rope with their friends and begin liking boys. In 1996 Katie Taylor was skipping rope but she was doing it in her father’s Bray Boxing Club. And her interest in boys was hitting them and avoiding getting hit as she followed her dad (Irish champion in 1986) and her two older brothers into the ring.  In so doing, young Katie became the first female boxer in Ireland.

Katie’s love for boxing has progressed since the opening bell.  Her first fight was at the age of 15 and was historic in Ireland, as this nation’s first female boxing match. Since then, 300 other women across Ireland have followed Katie in lacing up the gloves and slipping between the ropes.

As with all trailblazers, the path hasn’t been easy, but Katie has enjoyed the journey.  Last year Katie was honoured with both the ‘Irish Female Athlete of the Year’ and ‘Female World Amateur Boxer of the Year’ awards.  As a result, Katie appeared on the Pat Kenny ‘Late, Late Show’ with her dad in December – the “most nervous experience in my life”.

Asked the source of her confidence Katie share, “My strength and confidence comes from my close relationship to the Lord.  Before going out to box I read Psalm 18:31-40.My other pre fight routine is listening to worship music.  As I enter the ring I feel God with me in my corner.”

Katie’s perspective on being a Christian and a boxer is similar to that of Olympic champion runner Eric Liddell of ‘Chariots of Fire’ film fame. When challenged by his sister about running versus serving God full time in China as a missionary, he responded, ” I believe God made me for a purpose... but He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.   To win is to honour him."

Katie shared, ‘I believe the talent, ability and motivation I’ve been given is truly a gift from God. I am very humbled and feel so blessed for the life the Lord has given me.  I’m very grateful for the gifts and talents [God] has given me. I do not take the gifts for granted, but rather hone those gifts and abilities through diligent training twice a day, six times a week.  My preparation and performance is my act of worship.”

Stuart Weir (formally of Christians in Sport) recently wrote, “Playing sport is as legitimate as any other human activity.  If God created everything including our ability to play and enjoy sport, that gives sport intrinsic value. We can react by thanking God for the sporting ability he has given us and go out and use it for His glory through being intentional about developing our sporting talent to the best level possible.”

Looking to the future, Katie is motivated to retain her three current titles and she is aiming for Olympic gold in London (2012), joining Ireland’s only other Olympic boxing gold medalist - Michael Caruth (1992).

Despite doom and gloom about the global economy, Katie looks to the future with hope. “I’ve got a ‘God’ perspective of things. God, boxing, my family and friends are important to me and that’s enough to give me hope and peace for today, as well as tomorrow.”

With God in her corner, the future path for this fighting Irish warrior is certain to be paved in gold!