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Zauri Antia appointed Irish Head Coach on 5 years contract
by Michael O'Neill
December 2, 2016
Photo: Facebook
     
   
   

(DEC 2)  Great news for Irish boxing fans Friday with confirmation that interim Head Coach Zauri Antia has been appointed to the role on a full time basis until 2021 despite considerable offers from the National Boxing Associations of Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia and Canada and MGM Gym in Marbella. He will thus be in place for the Tokyo Olympics of 2020.


Photo credit/courtesy - iaba.ie

Antia will serve as Head Coach having first joined the Irish High Performance Team in 2003. Originally, Zauri’s focus was on the men’s team but over the last 18 months he has also had an increasing involvement with the women’s High-Performance system.

Antia is delighted to be in a position to remain.

He said: “I am delighted on both a personal and professional basis to commit to Irish boxing. Ireland has been home for my family and I for the last 13 years and I am delighted that we are in a position to stay. I am also very excited about remaining part of the Irish High-Performance system.

“We are, as is normal after any Olympic Games, in a period of transition but there remains a significant amount of talent and potential in the system as evidenced by the medals won by our team at the World Youth Championships in Russia last week and I am confident that with the right support and investment we can deliver future success.

“I am also looking forward to becoming more involved with the women’s programme and feel that the medals we won at the recent World and European Championships is evidence of the strides made in women’s boxing here.”

IABA CEO, Fergal Carruth said: “I am thrilled that we have managed to fight off some tough competition from other countries to retain the coaching expertise of Zauri within the Irish High Performance programme. He has been an integral part of all the success achieved by Irish boxing since his arrival in 2003.

“His decision to stay is a vote of confidence in the future of Irish boxing and in the significant talent within the system across our men’s and women’s programmes.”

So as we say, great news for not only Zauri Antia, who has been of course one of Katie Taylor’s coaches and close friends for many years including at London 2012, but also for the entire women’s programme though one would hope that the AIBA allows him to appoint a Senior Manager, responsible to him, for the entire women’s sport for no one person can hope to successful manage all Irish teams at every grade.

Insofar as the women’s sport is concerned it would also, pre-Tokyo be a good idea to start introducing more women’s coaches especially those who have fought at Senior international level for Ireland and who might not be boxing when Tokyo comes around, great competitors like for example Joanne Lambe and Dervla Duffy , for no one who has not herself boxed for her country at senior level will have experience as those great warriors have.

One has only to look at the success of England and GB Boxing since former lightweight champion Amanda Coulson joined to see how much the young English girls have benefited from her presence at tournaments and at the England Centre of Excellence in Sheffield. Ireland, despite Taylor’s move to the Pro’s have some very talented young female boxers, for example 20 years old Christina Desmond, Grainne Walsh from Sparticus (also 20) and Kelly Harrington from Glasnevin, a silver medallist at the 2016 Women’s Worlds in Astana with others pushing them hard like Amy Broadhurst, Lauren Hogan and Donna Barr.

Another who should be part of Antia’s team is Edenderry’s Liam Morley Brereton who has done so much for Irish boxing in recent years and who incidentally is in the throes of setting up a new Centre of Excellence in Edenderry. Very surprising that the IABA of today have seemingly no room for Brereton in their present set up. His coaching experience throughout Europe and beyond would be invaluable as indeed has been his ability to find funding for the women’s sports something which the IABA has always found difficult.

We wish Zauri well in his endeavours not only for the sport in general but particularly for the women’s sport which has been badly neglected in recent years. Things won’t change overnight though but this is a start provided that he is given the back up and has full authority for the teams and not having to account to IABA Ltd or Executive Council to approve his selections.

There is no better Technical Coach in the world today than Antia as shown by the number of nations who have been trying to prise him away from his beloved Bray. Who knows what the future holds - perhaps one day a certain Katie Taylor, who still trains near Bray when not in USA, may once again reunite with the Georgian native who has made such a huge impact on the Irish boxing scene since 2003.

Former Olympians like Darren O’Neill, Team Captain from London 2012 and Kenny Egan, an Olympic medallist in Beijing 2008 should also be invited to be part of the Antia backroom team for the future as well as the aforementioned Lambe and Duffy.

 

 
     
     
   
 
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