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Ireland coach Billy Walsh urges John Joe Nevin to stay amateur

Updated: Sunday, 30 Sep 2012 13:07

John Joe Nevin kisses his silver medal
John Joe Nevin kisses his silver medal

Billy Walsh has encouraged John Joe Nevin to turn down the chance to go professional and look to winning a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The pair joined Miriam O’Callaghan on Miriam Meets on RTÉ Radio 1 to discuss their sporting relationship, Olympic success and plans for the future.

Walsh, when questioned as to whether Nevin should turn professional, was adamant that the best choice for the Olympic silver medallist would be to stay amateur.

“For me no, he should stay amateur”, the Ireland coach said.

“We have done really, really well over the last 10 years with the squad and managed to keep most of them amateur.

"Thanks to the funding from the Irish Sports Council they can stay amateur and train full-time.

"We have done well to hold onto them because of the system, and the boys have confidence in the system we have in place and the people that are around them.

“They know these people are there for them, to help them and advance them and to look after them. Sometimes as a professional you are a piece of meat. It’s all about money.

"If you lose one fight as a pro you are probably gone, whereas with us if you lose a contest at a tournament there is always hope for you.

"We will bring you back and build you up for the major tournaments and, hopefully, get you qualified for the next Olympic Games.

“John Joe has a great opportunity as a 27-year-old to be at his third Olympic Games in Rio, which would be very unique.

"He has a chance to go there and bring back what he went to London to win, a gold medal.

“Going professional is a very lonely life. The team is gone and you are on your own. If you need a physio, psychologist or coach you have to pay for it out of your own money. It’s not as glamorous as it seems. It’s only the 1% are the guys you see with the bright lights and the big money.”

Nevin stated that he still has not made his mind up, but hopes to reach a decision in the next few weeks.

“At the start of my career all I wanted to do was win an Olympic medal and to be a World Champion as a professional. I’ve won the Olympic medal now, but when I got out of that ring and I sat down that evening I realised I had missed out. I have a new goal now and that’s to win an Olympic gold medal.

“I’m in two minds what to do. Having the support around you is a big part in your career. We will see in the next two weeks what the decision will be.”

“We are meant to be back training at the moment, but Billy has given me a bit of time off to talk to a few people about which road I’m going to take.

“At the end of the day money talks,” Nevin said, which drew a quick response from his mentor.

“Money isn’t everything,” Walsh said.

“He will have a good career as an amateur, and he will be well looked after. The Irish Sports Council are pulling out all the stops to make sure that he stays. He would be a phenomenal leader heading into Rio.

“It’s a big decision for John Joe to take. He is probably at a crossroads in his career. He can go back and do this again, and that is a major challenge.

"It’s a tough life and, sometimes, the early days of your professional boxing career can be easier for you because your opponents are picked. But when you go and represent your country at major tournaments you are fighting the best from each country in the world, and there are no duds out there.

“Staying amateur is a tough life, but I think it would be a life that suits John Joe.

“If he did go pro it would be like losing one of your children who goes off to live in a different country! But if he does it’s his decision and I will support him in any way I can.

“He is a great kid and a phenomenal talent and I only wish the best for him.”

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