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'People Seem To Do No Research:' Is Katie Taylor Underappreciated?

'People Seem To Do No Research:' Is Katie Taylor Underappreciated?
By Maurice Brosnan Updated

There is a striking moment in Katie - the Katie Taylor documentary which airs on RTE One on Monday night - where the Taylor family recall her childhood. Girls were not permitted to box, so a hairnet was used to conceal her ponytail underneath her helmet as she competed against boys under the name 'K Taylor.' The point is obvious; adversity in and out of the ring has been a life-long affair.

The WBA and IBF champion's ascent to stardom has routinely encountered challenges and obstructions. This new movie, directed by Ross Whitaker, began filming in the aftermath of the 2016 Olympics. Ireland's eyes were fixed on Rio as Taylor suffered an unexpected defeat at the quarter-final stage. The figure who helped propel women's boxing into the Olympics was felled at the same stage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHgAPYsjWvI

Taylor recovered from that set-back and has since thrived in the paid ranks. However, as Whitaker explains, this was not without its own difficulties. Reigniting her love for the sport, coming to terms with her estranged father, moving to Vernon; all problems that had to be tackled and conquered.

"There are a few moments in the film (when) you see the underlining feelings emerge even if she is not specifically talking about them and even though there are sections where she is specifically talking about it. It is really hard, really hard."

She is so quiet and yet she has this immense presence. Even in real life and you are hoping that is going to come across on screen. It is so funny when you spend time with her and you start seeing people meet her for the first time. Every time people meet her they are like 'oh hi, Katie Taylor' and within 30 seconds they are completely entranced. There is something about her. Her intensity and purity of her motivation.

"When you are with somebody and they have these deep feelings, like when she is talking about Rio and there is a moment in the film when she says 'there is not a day goes past when I don't think of Rio and it is eating away at me. My family tell me to stop thinking in that way but it is eating away at me.' You can see the depths from which that comes."

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Taylor is remarkably candid throughout and Whitaker stresses just important this was. This is a tale of human strength in the face of genuine vulnerability; it needed to be real.

It is amazing for her to be so vulnerable on camera, and as somebody watching on, as a human being watching another human being you just see how much it has hurt her.

It is the same when she is talking about her Dad and what happened with her family. That is tough. Her Dad was her mentor, her coach, her best friend. They did so many trips together and (he was) an amazing coach, an amazing guy to her in those years. For that to be gone it is something that you are going to carry with you I suppose and certainly in the 18 months that I filmed with her, that was always going to be part of her life.

Despite her proven ability, there remains a certain degree of detraction when it comes to Taylor's success. Her proven willingness to step into the ring has yet to be matched by potentially competitive opponents but blockbuster super-fights are on the horizon. Whitaker is quick to challenge the detractors and points to the likes of Delfine Persoon and Amanda Serrano as guaranteed contests.

"I think in sports media there is a subtle undermining of Katie's achievements quite regularly. People seem to do no research and then offer expert opinion. They know nothing about the sport and I have actually had a couple of private conversations with quite well-thought-of sports journalists where I said 'this is the actual situation' and they said 'I didn't know that!' I just think 'it is your job to know these things.'"

Ultimately, Taylor will persevere. Boxing is a business and a booming one at that. There are bigger and better days ahead; the imminent goal is unifying world titles. The moment is now, Whitaker's sole hope is that the nation doesn't miss it.

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"I think people haven't woken up yet to how exciting this kind of adventure Katie is on yet. I really hope that happens because we are missing out. We are missing out on the story."

She fought Cindy (Serrano) and honestly everyone thought that was going to be a much better fight, Including Katie's team. They thought it was going to be a lot harder than it turned out to be. Sometimes you don't know what happens although my suspicion is that when they get in the ring and they witness her speed first hand, that they get quite scared sometimes.

Someone you think of generally giving everything in a fight, in front of this phenonium, withdraws. But there will be bigger fights to come. I think the time is there now and I think Katie's team are kind of losing patience a little bit.

The predicament is persuading a small but strong pool of contenders, content to linger for the colossal payday, to challenge for the crown. Bouts that could propel the sport and substantiate a legacy. The latest chapter in the undulating tale of Katie Taylor.

SEE ALSO: Through Hell And Back: The Inspirational Story Of Caoimhin Agyarko

 

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