Andy Lee: Kenneth Egan should be the number two coach to Zaur Antia in the IABA

The former WBO world middleweight champion was speaking on Off The Ball this evening

BY Cian Roche 10:14 Wednesday 21 December 2016, 10:14 21 Dec 2016

Image: ©INPHO/Colm O'Neill

Ireland's boxers' underwhelming performance in this year's Olympic Games has led to calls for reform within the IABA. 

With the departure of Billy Walsh, who was named AIBA Coach of the Year for 2016 on Tuesday, the burden has fallen on a number of the other coaches to pick up some of the slack.  

In losing Walsh, which proved a major scandal in Irish sport when it happened last year, they lost a leader within Irish boxing and someone who's invaluable experience helped guide Ireland through many successful years including historic medal wins at the London and Beijing Olympics.

Speaking on Saturday's Off The Ball, former WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee explained some of the shortcomings of the current state of Irish boxing.

"The loss of Billy Walsh was huge I think," he said. "Not so much that he was a coach, but that he was manager and a disciplinarian. He was an organiser and I think that's what was lacking there. He was figure who had the respect of everybody there. 

"There's been a lot said, because I wasn't there and I didn't get the information first hand so I'd hate to repeat it. But some of the things I've heard would be troubling and would not be ideal in terms of young lads preparing for an Olympic Games.

"In terms of the strategic plan for the next four years, it's a very comprehensive plan. I was part of the steering board with Fergal Carruth and Michael Carruth and a couple of others. Implementing it is now the challenge. 

"Boxing is Ireland's most successful Olympic sport and that's the way it should be governed. I think the people who are there are the right people and they all want the right things for the boxing association. 

"The most important thing is hiring a new high performance director of boxing. We need someone who can take that mantle and take the responsibility off of Zaur [Antia]. You need to take pressure off guys like that so you're not doing three or four jobs at once."

Zaur Antia has become a leading figure in Irish boxing since the departure of Billy Walsh. Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy 

Asked who he would like to see installed in the position as high performance director of boxing he said: "I'd like to get Gary Keegan back but I don't think there's a chance in hell."

Lee agreed upon an alternate solution to who should fill that role or at least be part of the coaching ticket within Irish boxing. That alternative selection was Olympic silver medallist Kenneth Egan. 

"I think he'd be a very good shout. Kenneth is an asset especially as a coach. He's a qualified councillor now which would help with some of the issues they had and dealing with some of the personalities they had going into the Olympics.

"They had all these different personalities. What I heard was that there was three different factions inside the camp. Different coaches were favouring different boxers, there was a lot of in-team politics.

"I think Kenneth Egan should be the number two coach to Zaur Antia."

You can listen to the full discussion by clicking the link below, fast forward to 23 minutes to hear Lee discuss the current state of Irish boxing.

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