London 2010 on horizon as Egan guns for record
THE London Games are edging ever closer, but Beijing boxing silver medallist Ken Egan knows there is a lot of work to be done between now and 2012.
Tonight will be the first move towards that goal when he steps up to seek a record 10th consecutive Irish senior title against Tommy McCarthy.
Ten consecutive titles has never been done before. If Egan beats Belfast teenager McCarthy in the light-heavyweight final he will, essentially, have separated himself from the rest of his sport. It will also be his eighth consecutive title in a single weight division, a feat only ever previously achieved by Mick Dowling. His first two titles were won at middleweight and seven others at light-heavyweight.
So Kenny Egan is, arguably, just nine minutes of boxing away from immortality. That thought triggers a wistful chuckle from the Olympic silver medallist. Having followed his older brother Willie to Neilstown gym at the age of nine, Kenny boxed in All-Ireland finals at ages 11, 12 and 13, losing all three.
"I remember thinking 'Ah, here, this is not worth it!'" he smiles. "I just thought I was in the wrong sport altogether."
He has since established himself as Ireland's most decorated amateur boxer of all time. Billy Walsh, head coach of the High Performance Programme, believes that an Egan victory tonight will set a standard of achievement that may never be repeated.
"It's hard to believe that, in this day and age, we have a guy who is so committed to amateur boxing that he's now going for 10 consecutive national senior titles," explains Walsh.
"I thought we'd never see another boxer do it after Jim O'Sullivan.
"I suppose Michael Carruth's Olympic gold medal makes him our greatest amateur boxer. But Kenny wasn't too far away from that in Beijing. He's been a European medallist, he's been to the top eight in the World Championships three times. So he's been our most consistent and decorated boxer.
"And the thing about Kenny is, if he wins this, he isn't finished. There's still another few years left in him. I know his ambition is to go to London and, by the time that comes around, there could be another one or two to be added to it. Hopefully."
There is a respect for the national title that, for every boxer, reaches back to their childhood. Egan is no different. The taking of titles and the passing on of titles is an important sequence in amateur boxing.
"Last week I was speaking with John O'Sullivan, who won 10 national titles," said Egan. "He came down to the dressing room to wish me luck. I hope that in 20 years time I'll be the one walking down to the dressing room wishing someone else luck. Of course, I would do that.
"Records are meant to be broken. I will feel nervous. I get nervous before every fight."