Fighting for success

Billy Walsh

I sat down with Billy Walsh, current USA head boxing coach and former Head Coach of the Irish Athletic Boxing Association (IABA) High Performance Team, to discuss the recent Olympics, his approach to performance and development, and the future of boxing in the Olympics in light of the McLaren report.

Billy shares his thoughts on a range of subjects, in what is one of the most in-depth conversations with one of Ireland’s greatest ever coaches. We touch on his preparation for the Olympics with the backdrop of the pandemic, his background in boxing and coaching in Ireland and some of the great boxers he coaches including Katie Taylor and Kellie Harrington.  

Billy’s successes to date at European, World and Olympic level are unprecedented in the history of Irish Sport and he is carrying this into the USA setup. We also take detours into Elite Performance and how this can relate to excelling in business, the benefits of motivation and attitude, leadership and adapting to change.


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3:42 Recapping the most recent Olympics

7:48 The impact of the pandemic on the preparation for the Olympics

12:21 Why is it so hard to become an Olympian?

16:36 The McLaren report

19:55 Billy’s external impression of the US boxing setup before he got involved

23:05 Instilling a high-performance culture

29:49 The 4-year cycle and recruitment of a team

31:20 Going from amateur to professional

34:43 The most important attributes to look for in potential Olympic fighters

35:27 Maintaining a work/life balance with his wife and kids in Ireland

37:30 An interest in other roles for other organisations

39:35 What drew Billy to boxing

41:22 Why boxing is so popular in Ireland

43:19 Knowing when to specialise in a sport

47:55 Advice for young athletes not getting selected

52:55 Why some great boxers don’t succeed at the Olympics

58:52 The key attributes of Katie Taylor

1:05:04 The importance of having a routine

1:07:17 Typical routines or pre-game tactics

1:09:37 Creating a team ethos when ultimately the athletes compete against each other