Boxing

"I Felt It Needed To Be Said For Other Boxers In The Future, So It Doesn't Happen Again"

"I Felt It Needed To Be Said For Other Boxers In The Future, So It Doesn't Happen Again"

It's now almost 48 hours since Michael Conlan's Olympic boxing dream was snatched from him by a combination of judges and Russian bantamweight Vladimir Nikitin in the Riocentro, but the outrage rumbles on beneath the shadows of the Pat Hickey saga.

Speaking to Ger Gilroy after Off The Ball aired on Newstalk night, Conlan said he was "still heartbroken" at the decision which saw him exit before the medal stages. He also questioned the 'want' of the Russian who ended his Olympic aspirations, with Billy Walsh claiming last night that Nikitin's face was too damaged to face Shakur Stevenson in the Olympic semi.

Stevenson then, America's next great boxing hope, gets a walkover to the final while Conlan - ready and able to fight - faces a flight home:

Before the Commonwealth final I had two worse cuts than what he has. I think he's given up. I think I've just taken everything out of him. He doesn't want to go in there and take another hiding tomorrow, which he would have. He's a tough fighter but I'm heartbroken. The guy has took my dream and then not even tried to go on and emulate my dream to try get that gold medal. He just gave up and settled for bronze.

The 24-year-old Belfast man might have missed out on Olympic gold, but his enraged post-fight interviews in which he accused AIBA of corruption were replayed and written about around the world. It's perhaps too soon to try and quantify how beneficial these interviews will be to his pro career, but the fact remains that the boxing world stood up and took notice of Conlan on Tuesday night.

And he doesn't regret a thing he said, except maybe the volume of f-bombs he dropped on RTÉ:

I said some crazy stuff after in my interviews but what I said is what my true emotions were. I spoke the truth, I don't regret anything I said. Maybe I could have toned down the language a bit, but it was all the truth. I felt it needed to be said for other boxers in the future so it doesn't happen again.

I believe the whole system of amateur boxing at the minute, Olympic boxing especially, is stinking.

I think the IOC needs to have a look at boxing in the Olympics and whether it should even be in Tokyo. If I was a young boxer watching the Olympics I don’t think I’d want to be there!

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Conlan believes Michael O'Reilly's doping violation possibly did play on the mind of judges and officials throughout the Irish Olympic boxing campaign, but clarified his father's comments when he declared "we embarrassed them!" while trying to piece together what went wrong.

According to the junior Conlan, father John was referring to referee-whistleblower Séamus Kelly, and his leaking news of widespread corruption and potential fight-fixing to Owen Gibson of The Guardian in advance of the Games.

Before the Olympics we got the bad feeling - with an ex-Irish (judge) who was part of AIBA came out and kind of outed them.

We knew they were going to come down hard on us for him having his say. He came out and told the truth and I think they were looking at us as if saying ‘oh we’ll get ye back’. I don’t think that helped us, or the Michael O’Reilly situation helped us.

Conlan also revealed that he intends to send his Olympic vest to the young boy who offered his own gold medal having felt sympathy for his hero while watching events in Rio unfold.

You can hear Conlan's fascinating interview with Ger Gilroy in full below:

Gavan Casey
Article written by
Former handwriting champion. Was violently bitten by a pelican at Fota Wildlife Park in 2001.

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