BOXING Andy Lee To Stay in Amateur Ranks Up To Beijing Olympics
Top Irish Boxing Prospect Commits to Boxing Squad Until 2008
Following months of speculation Andy Lee announced his intention to stay in the amateur ranks up to the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008. Despite interest from high profile professional trainers and promoters the European Middleweight Bronze Medallist has decided to stay within the IABA High Performance Programme.
The Irish Sports Council met with Andy in 2004 and presented him with a financial package which has proved to be enough to persuade the Limerick man to stay as an amateur up to Beijing. The Council recognised that the Limerick Middleweight has the ability to reach the podium at European, World and Olympic level and, like the best amateurs, would be made lucrative offers from professional boxing. .
Andy Lee said; "I was very tempted by the offers from the pro ranks but I love the amateur game and want to win more national championships and represent Ireland at the big events. The system put in place by Gary Keegan and the support from the Sports Council means that I can stay an amateur up to the next Olympics".
Gary Keegan, Performance Director, was delighted at the announcement. "The reality is that most medals are won at major championships by experienced boxers who are more mature physically. To give our boxers the best possible chance of success at international level we need to keep them in our programme for longer. Andy is a talented lad with a big future in the sport. By staying in the programme Andy will continue to improve and build on his impressive Championship record".
John Treacy, Chief Executive, Irish Sports Council: "We are delighted for Andy and for boxing that he has made the decision to stay with the IABA High Performance Programme. We put a package together for Andy because we genuinely believe that it is the right decision for him at this stage of his career. He is only 20 and four more years with Gary Keegan, Billy Walsh and the rest of the team is the best thing for his long-term development".
Andy Lee emerged as a World Class boxer over the last three years, winning a silver medal in the World Junior Championships in Cuba in 2002. As senior Irish champion Andy competed at the European Championships in Croatia in February 2004, ultimately winning the bronze medal at Middlewight (75kg). This qualified Andy for the 2004 Athens Olympics. As Ireland's only boxing representative he reached the last 16 where he was eliminated on the countback rule.
Under Gary Keegan and supported by the Irish Sports Council the senior squad are full time and targeted at the major international events. Andy's first task will be to ensure that he retains his Irish Senior Title. The ultimate target for Andy, Kenneth Egan, Eric Donovan and the other senior squad members in 2005 will be the World Championships in November.
Issued for the Irish Amateur Boxing Association by the Irish Sports Council
For further information contact
Gary Keegan Performance Director 087-2758906
Paul McDermott Irish Sports Council 087-6486295
Michael O'Keeffe O'Herlihy Communications 01-6602744