Kurt Walker wins boxing gold for Ireland at European Games

Lisburn native won on a unanimous decision against Mykola Butsenko in Minsk

Ireland’s Kurt Walker celebrates with his gold medal at the 2019 European Games. Photo: Soenar Chamid/Inpho

Ireland’s Kurt Walker celebrates with his gold medal at the 2019 European Games. Photo: Soenar Chamid/Inpho

 

Kurt Walker turned what began as a disappointing day for Kellie Harrington and Team Ireland into a golden finish for the Irish boxers at the European Games in Minsk.

Walker earned a gold medal in a unanimous decision win over Mykola Butsenko of Ukraine in the Bantamweight final with Harrington having to pull out of her lightweight final against Mira Potkonen with an injured hand.

Harrington as well as Michaela Walsh both took silver medals out of the final weekend as Ireland swept to a six medal finish in one of their most successful international tournaments ever. Regan Buckley (49kg), Grainne Walsh (69kg) and Michael Nevin (75kg) all ended the championships with bronze medals.

The haul exceeds the previous edition of the European Games in Baku four years ago when Katie Taylor and Michael O’Reilly both won gold medals with Brendan Irvine taking silver and Sean McComb bronze.

Walker was landing hard, clean punches from the beginning of the bout and held his composure in the face of some pressure from the Ukrainian southpaw. He took the first round on all the score cards and also won rounds two and three for the unanimous 30-27, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 win. He had beaten opponents from Armenia, France and England before his fourth win of the championships delivered gold.

“I actually can’t describe how I’m feeling, it’s absolutely unbelievable,” said Walker afterwards. “To come here at the start and believe I’ll win gold, but for it to actually happen is just on a different level.

“He was very tough, he’s been about. This was his third European final so he’s very experienced and he kept coming and coming, so I’m just glad I was able to fight through it. Two years ago in the European Championships he beat me in the semis 5-0 and it just shows I’ve grown so much as a boxer and a man in the last two years.”

Earlier, team captain Harrington was forced out of her gold medal bout. Due to face Finland’s Mira Potkonen, Ireland’s only reigning world amateur champion sustained a thumb injury in her semifinal defeat of Sweden’s Agnes Alexiusson and was deemed unfit to box. The 38-year-old Potkonen, who knocked Katie Taylor out of the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, won gold by walkover. But Harrington remained stoic.

“It’s a great achievement to come out here and get a silver medal, as well as the team picking up six medals,” said Harringtom.”I’m disappointed to not be fighting today in the finals but sometimes you have to look after yourself as number one priority, we have a bigger picture in mind.

“As team captain coming out here with such a strong team, to be honest I didn’t expect anything different. We got what we came out here for and that’s all that can be asked of us and of the team. I’m very proud of the team and absolutely honoured to be team captain of both male and female.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.