Ex-Irish National coach rebuilding with Team USA
USA Boxing head coach Billy Walsh was the head coach of his native country’s amateur program in Ireland for 12 years and, ironically, those two squads will compete in three friendly duals next month on the 2018 USA vs. Ireland Northeast Tour.
A 1988 Ireland Olympian, Walsh coached the Irish Team from 2003 to 2015, and he took over Team USA in 2015, capturing the AIBA’s World Coach of the Year the past two years.
The USA vs. Ireland Northeast Boxing Tour will commence March 12 at Boston’s Royale Entertainment Complex, followed by match-ups on March 15 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass., and Manchester, NH will close out tours on March 21 at The Manchester Downtown Hotel. Boxing will begin at 7:00 p.m. EST in all three cities.
Tickets for any of these events may be purchased online at http://go.teamusa.org/2nX3Vjc. Each city will showcase up to 12 bouts, each to be live-streamed, free of charge, on USA Boxing’s website (www.usaboxing.org).
“At the end of the day,” the 54-year-old Walsh admitted, “it is an unusual situation for me. But I’ve been coaching here two years and Team USA is my team now. I didn’t come here for just a few years. When I eventually leave, Team USA will have developed continuity and a solid program.
“I am a true Irishman who developed through a system that won multiple titles and I was the Irish Team captain for five years. I’m helping develop strong relations between USA and Ireland that can help both programs. Ireland has been among the best of the world – amazing considering the geographical size of Ireland — with its fighters’ great hearts along with their technique and skill.
“There’s a lot of talent and resources in the states, but amateur boxers have been taught to develop skills more for professional boxing. Here there is a variety of different ethnic groups: Mexicans, African-American and Caucasians, too. It’s truly a melting pot and each has a unique style of boxing. We are now providing coaching education for US programs to be sustainable long term.”
Boston, of course, is known for being Irish friendly, to say the least. The Mayor of Boston, for example, is Marty Walsh. Coach Walsh has only been in Boston once, 10 years ago with his wife for a short holiday.
“I didn’t do or get to see too much,” Walsh added. “but I know that there’s a lot of Irish history in Boston. Boston is a home away from home for the Irish. I have some friends and family there. I even joke that the mayor is my cousin. I understand that there are a lot of Irish in Springfield and Manchester, as well. I’m looking forward to going to all three cities on this tour.”
Rosters for the USA and Irish teams will soon be announced.