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Kenny Egan brought back a silver medal for Ireland from the Olympic Games – but almost everyone agrees it should have been gold. A national sporting hero, he tells Hot Press of his plans for the future...
Jason O'Toole, 23 Jan 2009
What did the Chinese boxer Zhang say to you after the fight?
We had a press conference straight after, and the RTÉ crowd and all were there. We sat down beside each other and the RTÉ boys said, ‘Zhang, what’s the crack? Do you think you really won the fight?’ And he says, ‘Yeah, I did!’ I was just sitting there, looking at him in disgust that he was telling barefaced lies! When I was up on the podium looking out at all the boys with the cameras, they were all shaking their heads, you know? At the end of the day, he has two hands and you have two hands – you don’t have any super powers or anything! So, off youse go. I said it before the Games, if I get beaten by a guy that’s better than me, I’ll shake his hands and walk off. I was beaten by a guy – and I wasn’t actually beaten beaten by the guy – but I still shook his hand. ‘Fair play to you!’ He got the decision. A dodgy decision but, at the same time, you can’t be a fucking bastard about it. I said, ‘Fair play to you. Well done. You got the gold’. I gave the old medal a kiss. It was nearly mine. A lovely fucking medal, mind you. And then that was it.
I’m sure you’d love a rematch with him?
Definitely. Please God, it could be on the cards. Yeah. Ireland v China. Las Vegas. The main event – himself and myself. Why not? When you think of it, the last medal we pulled in boxing was 16 years ago.
How many Irish titles do you have?
I’ve 14 or 15 Irish titles, but I’ve eight seniors. I’ve over 180 fights – I’ve won about 170, I’d say. And I haven’t been beaten in Ireland since 2000.
That’s almost nine years!
It’s fucking mad, isn’t it?
Should the Government be doing more for boxing?
I’d say to the Minister for Sport, ‘Invest your money in a sport that is pulling medals’. Straight away, it’s boxing. This year has been the most successful year in amateur boxing ever, with the silver and the two bronzes in the Games; in the World Juniors we got a gold, a silver and two bronze; in the Europeans we got three bronze. Katie Taylor did Ireland proud in China. Athletics – I was over in the Games with the crew from the Olympics and all they had was excuses: ‘My hamstring this! My hamstring that!’ The government should be doing more for boxing.