Celebrating: Women in High Performance Boxing

IABA’s Women in Sport Lead, Sophie Doolan, is kicking-off Women in Sport Week by celebrating women in High Performance Boxing.

Women’s boxing in Ireland is 23 years old this year – the first women’s competitive bout took place on Hallowe’en night, 2001, between Katie Taylor and Alanna Nihell. It was officiated by Illes Golden Glove BC’s Sadie Duffy.

Michaela Walsh

Belfast woman, Michaela, who contests at 57kg, is a double Olympian, having contested in Tokyo and qualified for Paris 2024. She is also a Commonweath Games gold (2022) and twice silver medalist (2014, 2018). Michaela is a double European Championship bronze medalist, claimed gold and the 2017 European Union Championships and a European Games silver and bronze medalist. She and Kellie Harrington broke the record for winning the most National Elite Championship titles (11) on the same night in November 2023. She is also an Ambassador for IABA’s diversity and inclusion programe, 360 Degrees: There’s Room for Everyone in the Squared Circle.

Kellie Harrington

Kellie is the reigning Olympic lightweight champion, and will seek to defend her title in Paris. She is also a World (2018) and European (2022) champion, as well as having claimed silver and bronze at these tournaments, respectively. She won gold at the 2023 European Games, and silver in the 2019 edition of the tournament. She is the 2023 Strandja champion. In addition to her achievements in the ring, Kellie is an Ambassador for IABA’s anti-doping education and awareness programme, iBoxClean, and an Olympic Federation of Ireland Dare to Believe Ambassador.

Aoife O’Rourke

Aoife, from Castlerea Co. Roscommon, is fresh from claiming gold at the 75th Strandja Memorial Tournament at 74kg. She, like Michaela and Kellie, is a double Olympian, and is gearing-up for Paris 2024. Aoife also holds the distinction of being a double European Championship gold medalist (2019 ad 2022), and also claimed gold at the 2023 European Games.

Tricia Heberle

Olympian, and Team Ireland’s Tokyo Chef de Mission, Tricia, joined the High Performance Unit as Director as in April, as Team Ireland boxers prepare for their first opportunity to qualify for the Paris Olympics, at the European Games in Poland in June – 5 athletes booked their places in Paris in Krakow. Since then, Tricia has directed the HPU in hosting 3 international training camps, with Ukraine, and with Spain, Turkey, and France.

HPU athletes have also trained in a Heat Acclimatisation Camp in Tenerife, and contested the 75th Strandja Memorial Tournament. A team of 8 is in the midst of the 1st Olympic World Qualifer in Busto Arsizio, Italy.

Tricia’s role includes conducting structural and process reviews within the unit, from a boxing administration perspective, and will assist and support HPU coaching staff, led by Zauri Antia, in preparing for Paris 2024.

Lynne McEnery

Lynne, of St. Paul’s BC, Waterford, was appointed to the High Performance Paris Pool Coach programme in 2023. The Paris Pool Coach Programme is the result of Sport Ireland investment and support. Lynne is a former club coach and competitive boxer. She has significant experience in High Performance coaching at international level with Elite, Youth and Schools age groups. Lynne has, this month, become the first woman staff coach in the HPU, following her appointment as a High Performance Development Coach, and coached at the 75th Strandja Memorial Tournament.

Women in Sport Week Events.

IABA’s Women in Sport Lead, Sophie Doolan, has developed a series of events in line with Sport Ireland’s WIS week pillars, including:

March 4th: High Performance – profiling some of the key women in High Performance Boxing

March 5th: Visibility – IABA will launch Phase Two of the Ringcraft programme on Tuesday.

March 6th – IABA will replatfom to clubs the keynote advice development by the Women in Leadership Group in 2022 to assist clubs in supporting women and girls in our sport.

March 7th – Coaching & Officiating. IABA has asked clubs to contribute to the highlighting of women coaches and officials in their club.

March 8th – International Women’s Day

*IABA’s National Secretary will share a keynote message with women of Irish Boxing

*IABA’s brand new Youth Leadership programme will open to expressions of interest from young women

*IABA Ulster will host a Try It! day for primary and secondary school students in Belfast.