Youth Olympic Games: Boxer Ryan Burnett seals gold for Ireland
Ryan Burnett is the new star of Irish boxing after his gold medal success at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.
The 18-year-old light-flyweight boxed beautifully yesterday, picking his shots with great accuracy and blocking the counters coming his way from Azerbaijan's Salman Alizida, who had beaten the Belfast man in the World Youth final in May.
Not only did Burnett, who dropped his opponent in the third round, savour his golden moment, winning 13-6, but it was sweet revenge for a highly controversial defeat to Alizida in Baku when he had to handle the vociferous support from the Azerbaijan fans.
Burnett's Holy Family ABC coach Gerry Storey said: “After the abuse he got the last time they boxed this is particularly satisfying for him.
“He’s a young lad, 17, and the last time he boxed in Azerbaijan where that lad came from, the moment he stepped in the ring the abuse started. They were taxied in from all over the place. It was like a packed Kings Hall and they were all baying for Ryan’s blood.
“Anything the other lad did, even if he got a deep breath, they were bawling for him and cheering him on.
“But Ryan was ready this time. Once the level playing field was there he showed what he can do. He’s a good kid, terrific prospect.”
Burnett jumped into the arms of Irish coach Jim Moore at the final bell and then described his gold medal victory as simply “incredible”.
Burnett, who has won multi nations gold and bronze over the past 12 months as well as that World silver, added: “I knew it
was going to be tough because of the fight we had in Baku but I also knew that if I boxed the way I was told to then I could win it by seven or eight points. It's just unbelievable to win gold, unbelievable.
“I knew what to expect and the key for me was the jab. I boxed behind the jab and it paid off.
“Now I have this gold I guess the ultimate goal now is for me to go for gold at the major Olympics.”
Unless he moves up in weight, 2012 would seem to be out of the question as clubmate Paddy Barnes just happens to be the European senior amateur champion at light-fly, having won bronze at the 2008 Olympics.
Meanwhile, the Irish Amateur Boxing Association’s Director of boxing Dominic O’Rourke hailed Burnett’s performance as “fantastic”.
The teenager’s win is the latest major medal success for Irish boxing which is currently enjoying a boom period.
At every level now Irish boxing is hitting medals and High Performance coach Billy Walsh believes there is more glory ahead.
“It used to be that Irish boxers were hoping for a good draw when it came to major championships but now nations are looking to avoid facing an Irish boxer,” says Walsh. “We took away the excuses of Irish boxers not doing well — we put everything in place to be successful and it has paid off.
“All our boxers now know that they have the ability to beat anyone in the world, the whole mindset has changed.”
Burnett will return home and look ahead to competing at intermediate level before making his debut at the Ulster seniors and who knows, maybe in 2016 in Rio, Belfast will be celebrating an Olympic gold medallist.