Known as a women’s boxing icon, Olympic gold medallist, and long-time undefeated professional, as a youngster Katie Taylor was also a footballing prodigy.
An underage international, the Irish woman would win 18 senior caps. As a teen she’d been named ‘schoolboy’ Player of the Year in County Wicklow playing in the boys’ leagues. She later won U19 International Player of the Year. While on Ireland duty, her teammates would sometimes encounter Taylor shadow-boxing in her hotel room, another sign of a precocious talent.
In 2010, she was part of a Peamount United squad that claimed a domestic treble, including the FAI Cup. Peamount would become founding members and inaugural winners of Ireland’s Women’s National League in 2011, also progressing from the Champions League group stages.
By then Taylor had switched her full attention to boxing. Her lifelong dream was to win Olympic gold and she was instrumental in convincing the Games guardians to introduce the women’s grade; often participating in exhibition bouts. In truth, it was her phenomenal ability in the ring which went a long way to seeing the sport introduced in London in 2012.
Already a household name, Ireland came to a standstill for each Taylor fight as she progressed through the rounds. The cacophonous atmosphere at her Olympic final at the ExCel Arena was more akin to an Irish match at a major tournament. With football jerseys in abundance, and to the strains of Olé Olé, the adopted anthem, Games organisers recorded the highest decibel levels heard up to that point.
Taylor’s supreme skill in capturing gold was the launchpad for global fame when turning professional. Football’s loss was certainly boxing’s gain, but her previous talent on the pitch endeared her even more to Irish sports fans, if that were possible.
Issue 6 of Póg Mo Goal Magazine is now available at www.pogmogoal.bigcartel.com
Illustration by Classquatch, a Dublin-based illustrator and printer who draws inspiration from his interests in Hip Hop, movies and sport.