Irish boxing sensation Katie Taylor’s ever-increasing legion of fans has added a very famous face to its ranks — movie star Liam Neeson.
The Ballymena actor called Katie last week to say she had made him proud to be Irish after her gold medal-winning performances at the Olympic Games.
Neeson — star of blockbusters including Taken, Star Wars and Schindler’s List — put the call into the Bray woman’s family home. But he almost didn’t get speaking to her as when her dad told her who it was on the phone she thought it was a wind-up.
Katie’s father and trainer, Peter Taylor, said Katie was overwhelmed when she heard the Oscar-nominated actor’s voice on the other end of the telephone. Peter said: “The phone rang, and I said, ‘Yes, this is Pete Taylor’, and he replied, ‘Hi, I’m Liam Neeson.’
“I couldn’t believe it. When I told her it was Neeson, she laughed and said, ‘You’re having me on,’ but I wasn’t.
“He spoke to her for three or four minutes. He congratulated her on her win at the Olympics and said he’d been in New York and that all the bars were full of people watching her.
“He said she brought America to a standstill and that she made him proud to be Irish. It was amazing.”
Neeson, once a promising boxer himself, then passed the phone to former boxer John Duddy who used to train with Katie and her father in Bray.
Duddy — from Londonderry — congratulated her on her win.
Katie’s heroics at the Games is inspiring girls across Ireland to pull on boxing gloves.
A number of clubs say they are being inundated with inquiries from females.
Anja Norman, development officer at the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, said: “Girls of all ages are dying to join us. Since the Olympics, it’s been amazing.”