Bray shooting: Who is boxing coach Pete Taylor?

Father of Olympic champion Katie has been operating gym and fitness business


Pete Taylor (57) has always been a man to do things his way. He coached his daughter Katie his way. He put her into sparring sessions with men his way and at a time when it was not accepted wisdom to do so.

In the early days he organised his daughter’s trips abroad, when they should go and often where they should stay.

He scouted out where they would eat. He found gyms for Katie to train in and a track where she could run in far flung places such as China and the South Korean island of Jeujeu, where the World Championships were held in 2014. He was a disciplined and meticulously detailed coach.

He was also a harsh critic of the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA), the governing body of the sport in Ireland, because, amongst a number of things, he perceived them to be an amateur organisation, who looked after their best interests and not those of his daughter.

Along the way he became the most successful coach in the history of women’s boxing. Because of his success on the global stage, he was often asked to leave his job with Ireland and coach other countries. He always said no, explaining that he could never coach someone to try to beat his daughter.

Katie could have boxed for Britain because of her father’s English nationality and overtures were made as she dominated the lightweight amateur scene. But she said that would never happen, that she could never fight in an England team against an Irish boxer.

‘Utter dedication’

Pete trained Katie from the age of 10, built a bare block gym in the back garden of their house in Bray and hung a punching bag from the rafters.

He subsequently opened a gym beside where the current gym in Bray sits. It was an old metal boathouse they called the “Tin Can” and it was only after her World Championship win in 2012 that they had toilets installed. Prior to that they ran up to the local Harbour Bar to use their facilities.

Pete had coached Katie to be a world champion at 20. At 26, she was Olympic champion and at 28 a five-time world champion. Every step Pete was at her side. He also coached her to an unprecedented six successive European Championship titles.

“Dad does the extra mile. I don’t know anybody as meticulous. He shows utter dedication to make sure no stone is unturned,” said Katie after the Olympics in 2012.

From the north of England, near Leeds, Pete moved to Bray to work with his father in the amusement arcades on the seafront. He became the Irish light heavyweight champion in 1986.

He had his own electrical business which was successful and also worked the doors in Bray, which sometimes drew him into physical confrontations. In that he was also fearless and was known in the Bray area to be no shrinking violet.

‘Personal reasons’

It was in Bray he met Bridget Cranley and the pair married. They had four children Lee, Sarah, Peter and Katie, who is their youngest. Pete and Bridget are now estranged.

The children are all bright. Katie, despite limited time at school, qualified for UCD where she studied for a year before taking to boxing full time. Peter is theoretical physicist and a Marie Curie Global Research Fellow with joint affiliations at University College Dublin and Cornell University.

Pete is also a bright man although people say he can be difficult to deal with. He is a perfectionist whose direct north of England manner can sometimes be disconcerting and appear gruff.

He no longer coaches Katie. The two parted for “personal reasons” in 2015, about a year before the Rio Olympic Games of 2016.

At the end of 2015 for the first time he wasn’t in his daughter’s corner for the National Championships, which that year were held before Christmas. Katie went on to lose three fights in 2016, which had never happened in her career.

Last month Pete launched a fitness business called Club Box, which used empty night clubs during the day for boxing orientated fitness and music events. He had been running that with partner Karen Brown, while also maintaining his commitments to the boxing club in Bray.