golden girl | 

Listen: Kellie Harrington on why she walked away from a life-changing fortune

Olympic gold medallist reveals: “I probably have three years left in boxing”

Kellie Harrington at the recent launch of the Spar Better Choices campaign

Kevin Palmer

They may share top billing as the A-listers of Irish boxing, yet Kellie Harrington and Katie Taylor are following very different dreams.

While Taylor used her Olympic gold medal glory in 2012 and decorated amateur career as a launchpad for a lucrative move into the professional ranks, Harrington is determined to follow a very different path.

As Taylor prepares for what looks set to be the most lucrative fight in the history of women's boxing when she takes on Amanda Serrano in New York on April 30, Harrington doesn't even have a hint of envy in her eye at the riches coming her way.

Taylor's success in the pro ranks may have made her a multi-millionaire in double quick time and that wealth is certain to build amid huge pay-per-view interest in the Serrano fight, yet Ireland's Olympic superstar from last summer is content with the life she has and has no interest in changing it.

Harrington likes to surround herself with people she knows as loves, with partner Mandy and her job working at St Vincent's Psychiatric Hospital in Dublin all she needs to make her life complete and as she spoke at an event to promote Spar's Better Choices campaign, it is clear that now cheque could change that stance.

"I'm not a flashy person," begins the 32-year-old. "I have enough to get by and I enjoy my job so I didn't want to change that.

"I probably have three years left in boxing up to the Olympics and then I will probably go back to working in my job more regularly because that's what I enjoy doing. Boxing is a part of my life, but not my life.

"Although I train like a professional boxer, it's not my be-all and end-all and I didn't want to make it that it was. So it was quite easy to turn it down and say it was not a chapter I wanted to open.

"I don't see the need to change. I enjoy the normal life. I enjoy going to work and the life the way I live it. I don't need to be something that I'm not. I'm not into flash stuff.

"If I am making a few bob, that's great and I feel I deserve it because I have put in a lot, but even when I make a few bob I wouldn't be buying a whole load of flashy things.

"I'd be very sensible with it and try to create something for my future and if I have kids one day, something for their future as well."

Taylor has has to get used to appearances at press conferences to drive publicity for mega cards she is appearing on alongside the star names like Anthony Joshua and her promoter Eddie Hearn, but that world does not appeal to Harrington.

"I don't really care about doing press conferences and razzmatazz," he insists. "I'm happy doing what I like to do and being on big professional boxing shows with star names doesn't interest me. That's not what I want to do.

"Katie Taylor has chosen that route and this is my route. I'm happy and lucky enough to be surrounded by my friends and family in Ireland. I have a job that I love to do and like to get out there and work for money, that's what I enjoy doing.

"It's one of the reasons why I decided to do this Spar Better Choices campaign, as it's all about promoting healthy eating and especially for young people.

"When you work with a sponsor, it's all about picking brands that are true to your values. I've never been a money grabber and if I was like that, I could have a million things going on at the moment if I wanted, but I want to be associated with brands that reflect on me as a person and this campaign is something close to home.

"I'm in a weight making sport and make choices every day of what I eat and if I was to take on a sponsorship deal with an alcohol company, it would not work. It's not who I am and not the message I want to send out there. You have to be careful what you pick and choose."

Harrington's humble approach to life adds to her appeal as one of this nation's most adored sporting stars and less than year after she brought a tear to most Irish eyes with her gold medal-winning performance in the Tokyo Olympics, she is already setting her sights on more glory.

The one-year delay in staging the 2020 Olympics ensures the next Games are a little over two years away and Harrington is setting her sights set on another push for gold.

"We were standing in the line-up the other day for training and the coach reminded us that we have qualifying for the Olympics next year," she continued. "I was like... wow. It's here already.

"It's only six or seven months since the last Olympics and now we are thinking about the next one. It will be over in a blink of an eye. One morning I'll wake up and it will all be over.

"The qualifying part is the hardest part. The standard of boxing has grown massively in the amateur ranks over the last number of years. Just to qualify will be hard.

"Right now I don't feel pressure and instead, what I genuinely feel is the love of a nation. I know that sounds a bit cringey, but it feels like I gave them a bit of hope over my Olympic journey. I gave them something to follow at a time when everything was so miserable.

"Whatever colour of medal I was getting out there, people were just so happy to see me chasing something for Ireland. Whatever happens going forward, the people will be with me on the journey, whatever the final destination."

Glory clearly means more than cold, hard cash for Harrington as this sporting giant likes to fight by her own rules.

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