THE FATHER AND coach of Olympic bronze medallist Michael Conlan has added his voice to those calling on boxing chiefs to secure the future of Ireland’s top coaches.
Speaking at Team Ireland’s homecoming in Dublin Airport on Monday, John Conlan said that it would be sporting “suicide” if the country lost Billy Walsh and Zaur Antia, the two key men behind Ireland’s four-medal haul in the London ring.
Neither of the High Performance coaches have been tied down to long-term deals by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association (IABA). A report in Saturday’s Irish Independent indicated that both have been sounded out on potential moves by rival federations.
Olympic champion Katie Taylor called for new contracts for Walsh and Antia over the weekend and Conlan warned that their departure could lead to the loss of some top talent.
“I’m hearing rumours about Billy and Zaur moving. If they do that they’ll be in a lot of trouble because those two guys are the lynchpin of the whole team,” he told TheScore.ie.
“It’s not just these boys at the Olympics, there’s another 10 or 15 boys in the squad. I think they’ll lose a lot of senior boxers.”
“It’s absolutely crucial,” Conlan continued. “I’m Michael’s coach but when it comes to the internationals, I give Billy anything he needs. Billy walks away with Michael and I’ve no problem with it.
“The improvements in Michael in the last year-and-a-half have been phenomenal and some of it is down to Billy and Zaur. A lot of it is down to Michael.
“If they bring somebody else in, it’s going to take five to ten years to get to where Billy and Zaur are. I think it’s just suicide. Why would you do that?”