THE ROUTINE never changed.
Under Billy Walsh’s watch, Jason Quigley has had some of the best days of his boxing career.
Quigley won a silver medal at the 2013 World Championships in Kazakhstan, when he reached the final only to lose to home favourite Zhanibek Alimkhanuly.
The same year, Quigley won gold at the European Championships as he overcame Romanian Bogdan Juratoni in Minsk.
Quigley had worked under Walsh at the High Performance Unit in Dublin and was close to the Wexford man.
Before fights, the ritual was the same. Walsh would put Quigley to war with a few last words of wisdom, sealed with a kiss. Always a peck on the cheek.
Picture caption: Jason Quigley with Billy Walsh at the 2013 European Championships in Minsk.
“Some people have the X factor; You don’t know what it is, how they get it or whatever – but Billy definitely has the X factor,” Quigley says of Walsh, who left the IABA in controversial circumstances to take up a post as coash of the USA women’s team in Colorado Springs.
“We had a great relationship. He’s a great man, Billy.
“We had so many big talks over the years. The times when I was beaten in the seniors, I would have talked a lot to Billy. I did the same when I was doing well in fights.
“I had a really close relationship with Billy. That grew when I started to go away with him a lot more on Irish teams.”
There remain gaps in the story of the how and why Walsh’s services have been lost and a man who has helped bring seven Olympic medals back to Ireland has been allowed leave for a rival organisation less than a year before the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
“It’ll have broken Billy’s heart to go away and train another team,” says Quigley, who turned pro in the aftermath of winning the World silver and his aiming to make it 9-0 in his pro career this Friday in Las Vegas.
“His heart will be in it in America, but I done’t think he’ll ever be able to give what he gave to Ireland.
“It’s a big disappointment to be losing Billy to another country. Billy is a very passionate and proud Irishman. I saw that in Billy’s eyes every time he spoke and you could always get that sense off him.
“I heard the talks he gave, I saw the pride in his eyes. He was proud of us. Of Ireland.”
Zaur Antia has stepped into the role having previously worked as the technical coach under Walsh.
“Zaur is a bit of a boxing genius when it comes to tactics and moves,” says Quigley.
“Since Zaur came into the High Performance, he’s been a major part of why amateur boxing in Ireland has reached the top level.
“The teachniques he brought in were unbelievable. They were things we wouldn’t have seen before. He took boxing in Ireland to another level.
“The team work between Zaur and Billy was brilliant so it’s disappointing to see that partnership breaking up.
“I can’t see it having a big effect on the likes of Michael (Conlan), Paddy (Barnes) and the experienced boys, but it will have a big impact on the boxers coming through in the next few years.”Tags: