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Billy Walsh: I'm relishing my fairytale job in America

By Bernard O'Neill

Billy Walsh has admitted that it's a "fairytale" to be named head coach of USA Boxing.

The 52-year-old Wexford man penned a three-year deal with extensions at the USA Olympic trials in Memphis yesterday, but the Americans want him to stay beyond the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

USA Boxing announced yesterday that Walsh had signed, almost ironically while a hearing into his resignation as Irish head coach on Monday week last was under way.

"It's a fairytale for me," said Walsh. "I'm from the working-class area of Wolfe Tone Villas in Wexford and here I am now as USA head coach. I've loved boxing all my life, both as a boxer and a coach with Ireland. It's an honour to be coach to the world's top boxing nation."

The Americans aren't exactly the world's top boxing nation, according to the medals table at the last two Olympics and World Championships.

Indeed, Ireland, with Walsh at the helm, finished in fourth and fifth spot in the medals and rankings table at the recent 69-nation World Elite Men's Championships in Qatar.

The Americans didn't win a medal and finished joint 29th in the rankings, but the USA still tops the all-time Olympic medals table ahead of Cuba and Russia. They are considered the sleeping giants of the sport and it will be Walsh's task to awaken them.

"That's the job alright and I relish the challenge. When I left home that was the reason I came here. They've (Americans) been nothing but honourable to me," he added. "I met with the Olympic Council (USOC) and they're going to back me all the way.

"The contract is for three years and beyond. It says in it also that they will be trying everything to ensure that Mr Walsh stays beyond Tokyo (2020 Olympics). It was with great pride that I was part of building the successful Irish programme and I hope to do the same with USA Boxing."

Walsh's first task will be to prepare for the World Women's Championships and Olympic qualifiers in Kazakhstan in January. However, the event might be pushed back to April.

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