1. It was a crap fight. In fact it’s a long time since I’ve seen as crap a fight, amateur or professional, male or female. If you caught the young English woman Nicola Ward in her gold medal fight, or think back to Katie Taylor’s previous fight, you’ll see the difference: night and day. Mind you, she won. Won ugly. So we were back to the Jack Charlton days with the Ireland team again. Not pretty, but pretty effective. We’ll settle for that.
2. Those Jesus remarks of Katie after – what’d you think? As in “Thank God I won” and “Where would I be without Jesus in my life?” and “The Lord is my shepherd’ on the back of her dressing gown? I know one person at least who said if she mentioned Jesus again he’d throw up. Interesting. As far as I know, Katie belongs to a Pentecostal church in Bray. Under the law, she’s entitled to her religious belief, and to have that belief respected. The chances are, she’s thought about the meaning of her life and eventual death more than most of us have. Does our reaction to her religious remarks tell us anything about the level of tolerance afforded to religious commitment in Ireland today?
3. Why the out-pouring? I’m talking about the crowd in Brray, and the crowd in London, and the crowd in Belfast, and everywhere else that a few Irish people were gathered. The hunger for her to succeed, no matter how, long ball down the middle, accidentally bounce off the back of a head into the net – ANY way it had to happen was fine, as long as it happened and she won. We won.. The Irish people have known failure in so many ways on so many fronts down the years, we are drunk with delight when someone like Katie comes along and goes all the way. No gallant losers, no sure-isn’t-silver-a-great-achievement – GOLD. The top. No ifs or buts. Roy Keane would have liked yesterday.
4. There’s an awful lot of pain in sport. Not just for the boxers, but for the punters who scream and stamp and egg them on. I watched the fight on my own– the present Mrs Collns was upstairs, couldn’t bear to watch. Did I want the fight to go on for more than four rounds? Did I want to delight in the spectacle? Not a chance. End it quick, before I get seriously ill and need an ambulance. And yes, oh yes, oh YES, thank you God, thank you for Katie’s triumph. I’ve never met her, never will, but somehow I feel she’s linked with me in a way that makes me feel soooooo happy and proud. Who was it said we lived in a post-nationalist era?
5. Finally, women boxing – what do you think? Clearly for skill level it can and does match the men. With the headgear on and in the heat of battle, it’s easier to think of them as contestants rather than young women. Quite the reverse of track and field, in fact, where if the bottoms get any skimpier and the tops any tinier, it’ll be a mortal sin to walk past the stadium. But every so often, during the fight, I found myself wince.. Not, funny enough, when a woman boxer got a a blow to the face and they replayed it in slo-mo, Like that bit in an earlier bout where Katie caught the English opponent in the head and you saw the snot fly from her face under the impact of the blow. That was tough enough. But it was those fierce right hooks of Katie to the body that made me swallow. Women’s bodies, even when trained to a high degree of toughness, I still can’t help thinking of as other than soft. Vulnerable. And those blows to the breast somehow seemed …cruel. Almost unnatural. Oh well. I’m assuming no permanent damage is done. I’ll get used to it. But holy God, it must hurt.