Jackie Fields of the USA beat Cork’s Michael “Mossy” Doyle en route to gold at the 1924 Olympics. Fields was just 16-years-old when he finished on top of the featherweight podium in the French capital and has been confirmed by AIBA as the youngest Olympic champion of all time. Chicago-born Fields (Jacob Finkelstein) was advised by his coach to change his name because Finkelstein didn’t sound tough enough for a boxer, according to legend. The 1924 Olympic champion has been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the Jewish Boxing Hall of Fame. Paris 1924 was Ireland’s first Olympics.
It’s just a big as winning a medal,” said two-time Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes after he was selected by the Olympic Council of Ireland to bear the Irish flag and at the opening ceremony for next month’s Rio Olympics.
Barnes is the seventh Irish boxer to be selected to lead out Team Ireland since Ireland first entered the Olympics at Paris 1924.
Four of the Irish flag bearers have won medals, but not always at the Olympics they were selected as flag bearers at.
Matt Flanagan (Garda BC) led out Ireland at the 1928 Games in Amsterdam. Flanagan lost to Argentina’s eventual gold medallist Arturo Rodriquez in his first bout in the Netherlands.
Tony Byrne did the honours in Melbourne in 1956 and won bronze at the same tournament, and Jim McCourt, who won bronze at the 1964 Olympics,was Team Ireland flag bearer in Mexico City in 1968.
Wayne McCullough performed the honours in 1988 in Seoul, two years before he won silver at Barcelona 1992, and Francie Barrett led out Team Ireland in Atlanta in 1996.
Katie Taylor was Irish flag bearer at London 2012 and claimed an historic old gold.
“I’m over the moon. It’s a great honour to be put on me and I’m just over the moon,” added Belfast light-flyweight Barnes ahead of what is anticipated will be a spectacular opening ceremony on August 5th at the giant Maracana Stadium, an iconic football venue once graced by the talents of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, or Pelé for short.
Barnes, Katie Taylor, Brendan Irvine, Michael Conlan, David Oliver Joyce, Steven Donnelly, Michael O’Reilly and Joe Ward will represent Irish boxing in Rio.