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Michael Conlan has joined list of Irish sporting legends with AIBA World championship gold

By David Kelly

Published 15/10/2015

Sealed with a kiss: New World king Michael Conlan thanks coach Billy Walsh as fellow coach Zaur Antia looks on
Sealed with a kiss: New World king Michael Conlan thanks coach Billy Walsh as fellow coach Zaur Antia looks on

As Michael Conlan stood with the World championship gold medal around his neck, you couldn't help wondering if Irish sport has ever had it so good.

The past decade has seen many sportsmen rise to legendary status, striding out on the world stage with consummate ease. Think McDowell, McIlroy, O'Driscoll, O'Connell, Frampton et al - and now Conlan.

It has taken 41 years for a man to win a World boxing gold medal and in the same time we have Olympic gold, silver and bronze medal winners, which should just compound in the minds of sports fans the great magnitude of Conlan's achievement. It is up there with the finest moments in the history of sport on the Emerald Isle and for Northern Ireland the sporting achievement of 2015.

Fellow Belfast men Damaen Kelly and Stephen Kirk had gone close to reaching the top of the podium, both winning bronze in 1993 and 1997 respectively, while Donegal's Jason Quigley took silver in 2013.

Conlan is now arguably the finest amateur boxer to don the Irish vest, having won Olympic bronze three years ago and currently the holder of Commonwealth Games, European and World gold. In addition, he has become the poster boy for World amateur boxing - his face looking down from a giant poster at the arena in Doha.

The 23-year-old isn't finished yet as he has his sights firmly fixed on winning gold at next summer's Rio Olympics and few would bet against it as his confidence could not be higher.

Not that self-belief has ever been a problem for Conlan. As a teenager he exuded a deep feeling that the ring was in every sense his canvas, on which he would reveal the true colours of his potential. Brother Jamie enjoyed his own national amateur success and as a professional is moving ever closer towards a World title shot.

The Conlans are on the march and the journey has some way to go...

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