Queen of Hearts: The Rapid Rise of Katie Taylor

Photo Credits: Getty Images

Like it or not we have the success of female fighters like Ronda Rousey in the UFC to thank for the growing interest of women in combat sports.

Of course, it is not as though female combat athletes are a new phenomenon however these hard working hard hitting ladies were relegated to the fringes.

Dana White and the power brokers behind the UFC marketed Rousey brilliantly, billed as the next Mike Tyson, she violently threw her opponents on their heads and damn near ripped their arms off in seconds.

Now the sun has set on Ronda Rousey’s career after two crushing defeats in the last year and a half, though it should be pointed out that Rousey came away with a cool $3 Million for 48 seconds’ worth of ‘work’ last December losing to Amanda Nunes. Ironically Rousey’s lack of basic boxing/striking fundamentals that has led to her precipitous downfall.

Further, as of this writing UFC 211 this weekend features a co main event Strawweight Title match between Polish champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and the challenger, rugged Brazilian Jessica Andrade.

Now sandwiched between the hype and bombast of Ronda Rousey and the clinical ruthlessness of Jedrzejczyk is the humble, church going self-effacing Irish boxing sensation Katie Taylor.

Poised to completely take over women’s combat sports.

It’s been a sudden and rapid rise.

The Fighting Taylors

Maybe it is an anachronism; a family of Irish boxers but that’s what the Taylors are!

Katie’s dad Peter was Irish Senior Light Heavyweight champion. Her brothers were also both amateur boxers, so it would have been completely normal for Katie to follow her father in between his shifts working at an amusement park and brothers into the boxing gym on training days, it would have been as normal for the family as attending Sunday church services. Later, her mum Bridget would also become involved in the sport as both a referee and a judge!

Katie was born on the 2nd of July 1986 in Bray, County Wicklow in the Republic of Ireland. A gorgeous coastal town flanked by mossy green hills and overlooking the emerald waters of the Irish Sea. Just 20 km south of Dublin, Bray is an ideal place for the folks to take a day trip to escape and relax.

World Class

Katie began boxing in 1998 at the age of 11, with her father Peter as trainer Katie developed quickly. At 15 Katie made history when she fought Alanna Audely in the first ever sanctioned female boxing match at the National Stadium in Dublin, the only stadium like it in the world built for the sole purpose of hosting boxing exhibitions.

Vasyl Lomachenko, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Gennady Golovkin.

The most decorated male amateur boxers of this generation. One has to mention Katie Taylor in the same breath in regard to her amateur accomplishments as well!

Five consecutive gold medals at the Women’s World Championships.

Six European Championships.

Five European Union Championships.

So as her public profile grew in Ireland and the UK more broadly it was no surprise then as Katie entered the O2 Arena in Dublin to take on three time Pan American Champion Caroline Barry from America on the 21st of March 2009 that the Arena absolutely shook with thunderous adulation for the young lady from Bray. Katie won easily and it was then that Katie’s ‘coming out party’ was in full swing.

By 2012 Katie was ready to make history again, for the first time Women’s Boxing was going to be included in that year’s Olympic Games and Katie Taylor was chosen as the flag bearer for the Republic of Ireland. Katie practically set a noise record for the stentorian ovations she received while competing. Katie first defeated Britain’s Natasha Jones then punched her ticket to the semifinal and at least a silver medal by running over Tajikistan’s Mavzuna Chorieva.

On the 9th of August, the final was set between Katie Taylor and Russia’s Sofya Ochigava Katie’s nemesis from that years AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships.

Like that meeting, Katie would claim victory by a close margin of 10-8.

Katie could now add Gold Medal Olympian to her impressive amateur accolades.

Yet again making history as the first Female Lightweight Olympic Champion.

Turning Professional

Katie Taylor dropped out of the University College Dublin and resolved to become a professional boxer. The decision on whom to choose as her promoter was an easy one – Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing.

Eddie handles Tony Bellew and Anthony Joshua among others and has made millionaires of them both several times over.

The decision proved a wise one. As of last May, Katie and her brand KT Sports Ltd., netted 1.2 million Euro in profits.

Katie earned a further 120,000 Euro in her pro debut stopping 7-14 opponent Karina Kopinska in the 3rd round on the undercard of Scarpa - Davies last November 26th at the Wembley Arena in London.

And Eddie has kept her busy as well, barely two weeks later the 10th of December Katie out pointed and beat up Brazilian Viviane Obenauf at the old M.E.N in Manchester on the Joshua – Molina undercard.

Katie got a few months off, then was back on the undercard of Haye – Bellew on the 4th of March. Katie used a savage flurry to take out game 6-6 fighter Monica Gentili in the 5th round scoring a TKO.

Back in Manchester just 3 weeks later, creeping up now to the top of the Lianres – Crolla undercard Katie out pointed Milena Koleva. Katie won every round easily taking a lopsided UD 80-72. Katie’s defense was sharp catching and shooting back with hard return punches.

The stage was set for Katie to make a big mark. Four fights, four impressive wins.

Katie deserved a big stage and a big opportunity.

It came just two short weeks ago. Finally rising to the level of a main card spot on the biggest card of the year: Joshua vs. Klitschko.

Katie was matched with fellow undefeated German fighter Nina Meinke for the vacant WBA International Lightweight title. Like the female version of Manny Pacquiao, Katie darted in and out landing with flurries and combinations. A clash of heads in the 5th round opened a cut over Nina’s left eye and Katie targeted it mercilessly. Along with furious body punching Katie overwhelmed her opponent forcing referee Howard John Foster to save Nina in the 7th round.

Katie again made history on the main card of a record breaking night and fighting the first sanctioned 10 round female professional boxing match.

Undefeated now, a 5-0 champion with aspirations of unifying the division.

Fans already dream of seeing a super star match up with the other Phenom of Women’s boxing – 2012 and 2016 Middleweight Olympic Gold medalist Clarissa T-Rex Shields from America.

Of Heroes & Role Models

Boxing in 2017 is in a great place, it’s enjoying a rejuvenation of talent and fan interest across weight divisions and around the world.

Athletes like Anthony Joshua and Katie Taylor are that vanguard.

Moms and Dads from Liverpool England to Lincoln Nebraska can turn on their televisions without fear and see Joshua’s calm demeanor and erudite interviews and see Katie’s beaming smile and passion for her craft, all the while her voice cracks slightly with her Irish brogue as she tries to make herself heard over the cheering crowds.

Katie Taylor can inspire the next generation of female athletes and has helped raise the profile of Women’s Boxing to a yet unseen level.

She’s done it with the determination and grace befitting the new Queen of The Sport of Kings

5 min