The Big Interview: Katie Taylor
JOE talks to Ireland’s Olympic boxing gold medalist and all-round legend Katie Taylor.
JOE: We were out in your hometown of Bray shooting a video the day that you won the gold medal and everyone there wanted to make it absolutely clear that you were a Bray person through and through and how proud they were of that.
Did you find that overwhelming coming back as the number one person in Bray and Ireland?
Katie Taylor: Yeah it was incredible really…. My Dad said to me before I left for home that “You have to prepare yourself when you go home because it’s going to be a bit mad.”
I didn’t think it was going to be any different than any of the other homecomings I have had, but I so wrong… the crowds that turned up – 30,000 people – I couldn’t believe the reaction…
Even at home there were thousands of people waiting in my estate when I came home in the back garden and on top of me car… [Laughs] it was brilliant!
JOE: Your car?!
KT: [Laughs] Yeah I was like “Get off me car.” [Laughs]
We couldn’t get in the house! We live on a council estate and they always come out to greet me when I come back from competitions.
It was brilliant because the neighbours have been so supportive of me.
JOE: There have been reports of soccer contracts being offered, you’ve been inundated with offers to go professional in boxing and you yourself have talked about staying on for Rio 2016 and there’s negotiations going on about that at the moment.
Is it all a little distracting or would you rather just be in the ring?
KT: Yeah I don’t really have to deal with it to be honest. My Da usually deals with all that aspect of things – which is great because all I have to think about is my training.
He has been in talks with the Sports Council over the last number of weeks and as I was saying before I’d love to go for a second Olympic gold in 2016. It would be a dream for me to box again for my country in the Olympic Games.
Nothing can top that really, I have been offered a few nice pro-contracts, but I’d love the opportunity to go on in the amateur game. I love amateur boxing and I love boxing for my country.
JOE: That is without question the decision you’d like to make?
KT: Yeah definitely I would love to stay amateur.
JOE: Will soccer be taking a back seat? I know there was one quote before the Olympics, in an interview I think with Ger Gilroy of Newstalk, that you might do a bit of it?
KT: I went back to watch my old club play a couple of weeks back and I watched it thinking, I don’t think I would like to go back playing and running around for ninety minutes. [Laughs]
Four, two minute rounds in boxing versus ninety minutes of running around – it’s too much! [Laughs]
It’s completely different and I really just wouldn’t have the time for it to be honest, I would have liked to have come back and played the odd game here and there, but I just wouldn’t have the commitment for it.
JOE: Just a bit of Astro-Turf on a Thursday night maybe?!
KT: Yeah! [Laughs] Exactly – that’d be something I’d like to do! But going back to it competitively just wouldn’t be something I’d be interested in, I’m always worried with injuries too and I’m just back training… it’s not worth it really…
JOE: The gold medal was a dream for a long time, obviously you trained for years, then women’s boxing in the Olympics became a reality, then you won the gold medal.
How, after jumping all those hurdles, do you recalibrate and say ‘what do I want to achieve and how do I kick on from here?’
KT: Yeah I mean, as I said, I think the only thing I haven’t done in boxing is defend an Olympic medal. I mean I can improve as a boxer as well, I make so many mistakes in the ring…No seriously!
I make so many small mistakes that make a huge difference, I have to improve on those things and by four years time in Rio I will be a much better boxer than I am now and hopefully I can bring home a lot more medals for my country.
JOE: After your final you received so much praise from different fighters… was there any fighter who was talking about you that made you say “wow”?
KT: I think from the boxers themselves, it’s always great to hear from the legends in your own sport, from Oscar De La Hoya, from Lennox Lewis – it’s always great from those people. Those kind of people tweeting about me it’s just unbelievable and they’re the boxers I looked up to.
JOE: How do you adapt now that you have this extra responsibility and extra role, outside the ring. You’re like the first lady of Ireland – how do adapt to that and is it something you’re conscious of?
KT: Eh, I don’t think it’s something that I need to think about to be honest. I just try be myself and not anyone else.
I just try to be the best person I can be and if I can help some young girls, anyone really, I will of course. If I can inspire some people to get into sport and fulfil their dreams that’s amazing.
Katie Taylor with Sky Sports Scholarship mentor Rachel Wyse
JOE: Have you got back to watching any boxing as a fan since the Olympics?
KT: Yeah I was watching Carl Frampton’s fight a few weeks back…
JOE: It was great wasn’t it?
KT: It was amazing, some performance and brilliant to watch! I used to train with Carl as an amateur as well so it’s great to see him doing well.
JOE: He’s good mates with your Olympic teammate Paddy Barnes as well…
KT: Yeah he’s great mates with him, I think he carried his belt to the ring a few weeks back. They’re best of mates I think.
JOE: How did you handle hanging out with Paddy and all the lads at the Olympics? It looks like you had a bit of fun…
KT: Yeah we’ve trained together for years now, so it’s like a little family we’ve got going on.
KT: Yeah he’s brilliant, he lightens the mood a lot! He’s mad about the Twitter!
JOE: Were all the other boxers like “Paddy – what the hell!?”
KT: Yeah we love it – but he’s pretty much like that all the time!
JOE: What fights would you like to see as a fan over the next few years?
KT: Well I suppose the one all the fans want to see over the next few years – Pacquiao-Mayweather, to be honest I think they should have had a couple of fights by now.
JOE: Who wins that?
KT: I think Mayweather wins that, I’d put my money on Mayweather. He’s just so clever…
JOE: The defensive style of Mayweather…is that something you prefer watching to the all-action, go-forward style of Pacquiao?
KT: No, I love watching Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, but the technical boxers I especially love watching – the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard and Kostya Tszyu. .. the real technical fighters.
Also now that Ricky Hatton is back, I’d love to see Ricky fight Amir Khan, I think that’d be a brilliant fight!
JOE: That’d be a good fight to get them both back on their feet…
KT: Yeah and it’d be a great fight!
JOE: So you’re happy to see Rick back out of retirement?
KT: Hmm…I don’t know if I’m “happy,” boxers always come out of retirement and sometimes it doesn’t go so well for them…
JOE: Is that something you’d be worried about happening to yourself some day?
KT: Well I’m not retired and I have no plans to retire, but if I did that would be it for me. I probably wouldn’t come back to the sport.
JOE: What would be the plan then? Would you get into training like your Dad?
KT: I’m not sure…coaching is completely different from actually competing. I’m not sure if I’d have the patience or the confidence to actually coach!
I help out sometimes in the club [her father Peter Taylor’s club in Bray] coaching the kids.
[Laughs] It’s like “put your hands up! Why can’t you do that?!” – I haven’t got the patience!
JOE: When we were out in Bray there were two separate 5-year old girls who said they want to be like you and box and I read that the ratio of kids in your Dad’s club is now 50/50 boys to girls – that must be a pretty cool feeling!?
KT: Aw it’s amazing! Even the estate where I live the kids are at my door every now and then.
We had every child in our estate in the house the other day – just in with their shoes off on the sofa looking for a chat and to see the medals. They just come in, I think one of the kids is mates with my little nephew, they came in with their other mates.
So they all came in the other day – I gave one of the little girls a pair of my gloves and she’s going to be brilliant. She’s cool, she can beat up all the boys! She’s just a little tomboy. She’s brilliant at the sport and has a real talent for it, I hope she does well in whatever she chooses to do.
Some of the girls in the club are absolutely brilliant – they’re going to be real stars of the future!
JOE: That bodes well, I think our time is up, but thanks a million Katie.
KT: Anytime JOE.
“Sky Sports Scholar Katie Taylor was in Dublin with fellow beneficiary Paralympic medalist Mark Rohan with their mentors and Sky Sports News presenters Rachel Wyse and Sean Fletcher.”