A key factor in that turnaround is Billy Walsh, an easy-going 53-year-old native of Wexford, Ireland, who until last November was coaching his country’s national team.
In late 2014, seeking to bring in a new head coach with strong international experience, USA Boxing had approached Walsh, who in his 12 years at the helm had taken an Irish program that qualified just one boxer for the 2000 Games to seven Olympic medals and perennial honors in European and world championship tournaments.
“We did an international search,” says Michael Martino, executive director of USA Boxing, “and Billy Walsh was highly recommended. He had the experience, the temperament and the contacts and relationships throughout international amateur boxing.”
For his part Walsh—who began boxing at age seven in a Christian Brothers gym on Wexford Town’s Wolfe Tone Terrace and went on to represent Ireland as a welterweight in the 1988 Olympics—was intrigued. “I’d always said,” he recalls, “that if I ever left Ireland it would be for the sleeping giant of amateur boxing.”
….Martino is one of many now celebrating the results—even if mixing his sports metaphors in the process—saying, “I think we hit a homerun with Billy.”
*punches self in face*
Earlier: Meanwhile, In Rio
Previously: Billy Walsh on broadsheet