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Kellie Harrington backs ‘resilient’ Sinead Kavanagh to return better than ever

Kellie Harrington Sinead Kavanagh

Kellie Harrington has backed her close friend Sinead Kavanagh to return better than ever after her disappointing loss to Cris Cyborg.

Dublin native Kavanagh was unsuccessful in her bid to win the Bellator featherweight world championship, as she was knocked out in 90 seconds by Brazilian MMA legend Cyborg.

Kavanagh did land some nice shots on Cyborg in their brief fight, but the former UFC featherweight champion proved too be too powerful, and finished the Irishwoman on the ground after sending her to the canvas.

Olympic boxing gold medallist Harrington was speaking after announcing her brand partnership with SPAR and was confident that her friend would come back stronger than ever after the loss to Cyborg.

Kellie Harrington backs Sinead Kavanagh.

“That was a massive, massive fight. I could go into a whole lot about that and about whatever, you know, but I’m not going to because now is not the time. But I think Sinead will have some down time,” Harrington said.

“She’ll assess the situation. I think she should be given another crack at the whip with some of the other girls. She’s fought Leslie Smith and I don’t think she got the decision but I thought it was very, very close.

“So I think she should be given a crack at some of the other girls there. Some of the other top girls in the weight class. I think she should be given another crack and I think she’ll bounce back stronger than she was.

“I think that was a really tough fight but Sinead is a really tough person. Her resilience is second to none – she’s absolutely class and I look forward to seeing what she does next and how she bounces back.”


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A post shared by Sinead Kavanagh (@sineadkavanaghko)

‘I am very proud of her and I do love her.’

Harrington just recently reached the pinnacle of her career when she won the Olympic gold medal in the women’s lightweight division in Tokyo, an achievement for which she has been deservedly lavished in praise.

However, she also knows what it is like to lose, and believes that reaching out to support fellow athletes who have experienced disappointment is of major importance.

“I haven’t spoken to her [since the fight] but I’ve sent her a message. She has her partner over there [in the US] and she’s probably just winding down and coming to terms with what has happened,” Harrington commented.

“You have to give people a little bit of room to assess what has just happened really and that’s what I’ve done with Sinead. I sent her a message though to let her know that I am thinking of her and that I am here. 

“It’s not like she hasn’t heard from me because sometimes when you’re doing well in sport and you win, you’ll come out and have a million messages on your phone telling you how great you are and how proud people are of you, all this kind of craic.

“Next time you go out and lose and you’ve two text messages – one off your mam and one off your partner, telling you they’re proud of you and they love you and not to worry and to keep the chin up.

“So I still texted Sinead to tell her I am very proud of her and I do love her. She is a great friend of mine and she will be back. Hopefully she has a lot more messages on her phone like that.”

Kellie Harrington on turning down the opportunity to go pro.

Harrington had plenty of offers to turn professional after her success at the Olympics, but she decided to stay amateur, with a view to competing at the next Olympic Games in Paris in 2024.

Kurt Walker, a team mate of Harrington’s at this year’s Olympics, recently announced his decision to turn professional as he signed on with Top Rank, where he will be co-managed by Michael Conlan.

Conlan had also spoken to Harrington about turning professional, but the Olympic gold medalist admitted that she disliked the business side of professional boxing, describing herself as an athlete and not a businesswoman.

“It’s always nice to have offers. It’s nice to feel like, ‘Oh they actually think I could be a pro.’ It’s nice to hear that but at the same time, when I think of it, what I’ve done is great but if I walk away now and go professional, I wouldn’t have any space to come home and try and negotiate things for the next generation coming up,” Harrington explained.

“Regardless of whether I qualify for Paris or not, I want to try and pave the way for women in boxing and get more for them really. In fairness, since Bernard [Dunne] has come on board in 2016, what he has done has brought women’s boxing to the next level by giving us the chance we didn’t have before then.

“I want to give more women the chance, not just the ones at the top, I want to open the door for more. When I have to do it, that’s what I want to do. But if I was to walk out now and go professional, you’re away in a business.

“You have these vultures trying to earn off you and I’m not a businesswoman so I’m not into that. I’m a sporting woman and I am where I am because of community, clubs, people helping me, people never giving up on me.

“That’s what I love about it, I love these people and I think if you go professional, you lose that.”

SPAR today announced an exciting new 3-year partnership with Kellie Harrington, which will see the community retail group support her every step of the way on her journey to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. As part of the partnership, SPAR and Kellie Harrington today launched the SPAR Christmas Community Fund, which is an initiative where SPAR want to reward and acknowledge 10 local community mentors by giving them the chance to win €1,000 each for their club or community group. To find out more and nominate your local community mentors

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