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'sharks' Kellie Harrington says she remains committed to amateur game due to sense of community

The Olympic hero described some of those behind the professional boxing industry as 'sharks'

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Olympic gold medallist Kellie Harrington at St Mary’s Boxing Club, Tallaght. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Olympic gold medallist Kellie Harrington at St Mary’s Boxing Club, Tallaght. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Olympic gold medallist Kellie Harrington at St Mary’s Boxing Club, Tallaght. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Kellie Harrington has revealed the connection she forged with her local community through amateur boxing was one of the chief reasons she chose not to turn professional following her Olympic success.

Kurt Walker, a team-mate of Harrington’s in Tokyo, was the latest Irish boxer to opt out of the amateur ranks, signing a deal with Top Rank in recent weeks, and Harrington admitted yesterday that she, like Walker, was contacted by fellow Olympian Michael Conlan and his brother Jamie about following the same path.

“I have thought about going pro but when you weigh up the options, staying amateur is the best thing for me,” said Harrington, a SPAR ambassador.

“I feel that amateur boxing is about clubs, grassroots and community. You become a part of a family and you build relationships with people in the club. (At) professional (level), they’re like sharks.

“I haven’t been there so I don’t really know. From looking in, that’s what I feel, and from what I hear. It is a business and people are out to make (money) off you. They’re not really out for your welfare, they’re just out to line the pocket of themselves.

“For me, that’s not what sport is about.

“At the moment, I’m in a sport and it’s also a profession, but if I was to turn professional, it would be a business and I ain’t no businesswoman,” she added.

Since the Olympics, Harrington has returned to her part-time job at St Vincent’s Psychiatric Hospital, where she works alternating weekends as a cleaner.

“Without a job, I probably wouldn’t have the same focus because that’s my outlet,” said the 31-year-old, who’s currently back in training for the women’s World Amateur Boxing Championships.

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