Kellie Harrington right to stay amateur, says Kenneth Egan

Olympic silver medallist says Dubliner is avoiding pitfalls that come with pro ranks

Kellie Harrington won gold at the Tokyo Olympics this year. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Kellie Harrington won gold at the Tokyo Olympics this year. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

 

Olympic medallist Kenneth Egan has backed Kellie Harrington’s decision to remain in the amateur ranks, arguing that turning pro for a potential Croke Park showdown with Katie Taylor was too great a gamble.

Harrington considered various offers to turn professional after clinching gold at the Tokyo Olympics but will instead focus on retaining her lightweight title in Paris in 2024.

Egan, who won silver in Beijing in 2008, admitted he’s “delighted” with the decision and said there’s no reason why Harrington can’t emulate Claressa Shields and Nicola Adams as back-to-back gold medal winners.

Egan himself came close to entering the professional ranks in 2009 after being wooed by US promoter Joe Winters but backed out at the last minute and has no regrets.

Speaking at the launch of European Week of Sport 2021 which runs from September 23rd-30th, Egan said Harrington was right not to be won over by a potential superfight with Taylor in the coming years.

“I’m delighted, Kellie Harrington has made the right decision,” said Egan. “It’s the decision I would have made if I was in her shoes.

“She’s 31 now, she’s an Olympic champion, she’s funded by the Sports Council, she has ample opportunities for advertisements and sponsorships for the next three years running up to Paris.

“There was talk that if she went pro, she could have had a few fights and then fought Katie Taylor in Croke Park. It’s not as easy as that. Anything could happen in those years.

“Imagine she committed to the pro game and Katie Taylor got a bad injury or retired for some reason. What happens then? What does Kellie do then?

“She’s right to stay amateur, she can capitalise on what she’s done, she can make a few bob, she’s got a good head on her shoulders, she’s very grounded and she has a great family around her. I’m delighted that she made the right decision.”

On potentially emulating US icon Shields and the UK’s Nicola Adams by winning back-to-back Olympic gold medals, Egan said it’s an achievable goal for Harrington.

“That’s very elite company to be in,” said the former 10-in-a-row Irish amateur champion. “I think she can go out there and give a great account of herself and why not win gold for a second time? She has the opportunity to do that now.”

Having operated in Taylor’s shadows for many years as an amateur, back-to-back medals would elevate Harrington to greatness in her own right.

“If she goes on and does this double, then Katie Taylor will still be Katie Taylor because she’s on her own journey, but Kellie Harrington will be in a remarkable position in her own career,” said Egan.

Dubliner Egan, who has battled alcohol addiction, explained why staying amateur was the right decision for him too.

“The peace of mind I have now, I’m glad I never did it,” he said. “I wasn’t in my right mind when I came back from the Olympic Games, of course with the drinking and the madness. I was on the verge of signing on the dotted line but I said to myself, ‘I can’t sign on the line for this fella because I’m selling him a dud’. I wasn’t training right, my diet wasn’t right, I was drinking too much. I’m glad I didn’t because if I had signed on that line, that was it then, I was in contract for God knows how many years.

“I’m in a good place now, I’m quite content. I don’t have to take digs anymore, the training camps, the getting up early, the diet, all of that. No, I have no regrets whatsoever.”

* European Week of Sport is a week-long celebration of sport which promotes physical activity in people of all ages, background, or fitness levels. Sport Ireland is calling on you and your family to get out and #BeActive between the 23rd - 30th of September and who knows, this may be the start of a new found love for sport. For more information and to find an event near you, see www.sportireland.ie/europeanweekofsport

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