Search icon


07th Jan 2019

Kellie Harrington is well aware of the target on her back

Ireland's newest world champion vows to work out how to deal with the new challenge

Darragh Murphy

It’s been said that it’s harder to keep hold of a title than it is to win one.

Once you reach the pinnacle of your sport, your rivals’ eyes become fixed solely on you and the challengers come thick and fast and that’s not to mention the added pressure that comes with being a champion.

Kellie Harrington joined an exclusive club at the end of November, when she became just the third Irish boxer to win a gold medal at world level after Katie Taylor and Michael Conlan.

Harrington claimed lightweight gold in New Delhi with a stunning victory over Thailand’s Sudaporn Seesondee and the Dubliner, who won a bronze in the European Championships earlier that year, is well aware of the challenge ahead now that she is top of the heap.

“There’s always someone out there who is going to beat you, always. So you have to be at the top of your game all the time and try to be the number one,” the Dubliner said on the latest episode of Ireland Unfiltered.

“You have to realise that you can’t sit back, thinking that because you’re number one now that   you can take a little step back and chill out for a little while because I’m the best in the world.

“You’re a target now. I’m a target now! People want to beat me and people are going to be watching videos of me figuring out how to beat me and what tactics they can use to beat me.

“I’m going to have to do something to get better and it’s something I’ve been thinking about because what do I do now? How do I train harder than what I’ve already been doing?”

Harrington made it clear that she wanted to leave what was in the past in the past and would not expand on the personal issues she’s had to come through to make it to where she is today.

The 29-year-old could not overstate the positive impact that boxing has had on her life, however, and credited her three brothers with making her aware of her God-given toughness.

“I knew I could fight,” Harrington answered when asked why she chose boxing out of all possible avenues.

“It wasn’t that I knew it could change my life. I just knew I could fight from me and my brothers. I’m not joking when I say we would kill each other.

“We would properly kill each other and they were the days. They were great and we can all laugh about it now but we would kill each other.

“So I knew I could fight. I just needed skills. Everyone can fight, they just need to add skills.

“I just said I’d go to boxing and see if I could add any skills to what I already had.”

Ireland Unfiltered, brought to you in partnership with Carlsberg Unfiltered, will be available everywhere you get your podcasts and on YouTube every Tuesday.