SINEAD KAVANAGH says Kellie Harrington’s Olympic gold medal can inspire her to win an MMA world title.
The pair were boxing besties before Kavanagh switched codes after failing to make it to London 2012.
Harrington stayed the course but was forced to watch Rio 2016 pass her by before topping the podium at a Covid-delayed Tokyo 2020.
For Kavanagh, who joined News Ireland podcast The Rocky Road this week, that was an iconic moment.
The ex-middleweight boxer said: “It was so emotional.
“I was dancing, singing, crying — I didn’t know where I was. I was so chuffed for her. I know Kellie years — from the start of boxing. Since we’re about 14 or 15. So a long time.”
The first women’s amateur boxing match in Ireland took place in 2001 when Katie Taylor defeated Alanna Murphy at the National Stadium.
It was the same year the first Women’s World Championships took place, held in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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Fast forward six years and the first Irish senior women’s international took place in Dungarvan, Waterford.
Ireland beat England 6-2 on March 2, 2007.
The Irish winners on the night were Christina McMahon, Harrington, Taylor, Marsha Halpin, Murphy and Kavanagh.
Kavanagh recalled: “That was a big night. It was the first women’s international for Ireland. So we went down to Dungarvan and it was a big thing for all of us. We were finally given a chance to prove ourselves.
“We showed up and we done damage that day. I loved it, it was great just to be there with all them girls. I fought Jonas. I think she had a few medals as well. And I beat her.”
Harrington’s summer saw her assume ‘national treasure’ status and Kavanagh joked about what she is really like.
A GOOD SOUL
The former boxer added: “She’s a mad bitch. I absolutely love Kellie. She loves a few ballads and a mess.
“When it comes down to the crunch, obviously she’s very serious. We’ve sparred loads of times, and she’s a good soul. She’s good to be around.
“I’m so chuffed that Kellie did it. I went to the Olympic qualifiers in 2012 and obviously I didn’t make it but I was f***ing up there with the best.
“Kellie kept going and I’m so happy that she did.”
Before taking up MMA, Kavanagh managed to pack away five national Elite boxing titles.
But she says making it to the Olympics was not really the goal.
WORLD CHAMPION GOAL
Kavanagh said: “I just wanted to be successful at the game. To be world champion was my goal. Obviously I haven’t completed that goal yet but I’m really sure it’s on the way.
“At this age now it’s all about trying to get paid. Obviously I’m not on the big bucks yet but hopefully that’s gonna come.
“I’ve put a lot of time into this sport. I’ve put my whole life into it so I deserve some just desserts. Just like Kellie!
“If Kellie can do it, I can do it. I definitely can be world champion.
“Inner city girl — she went to FÁS. It’s a dream, what she’s after doing. It spreads out to young kids where she lives.
“Yeah, if Kellie can do it, I can do it. It’s after putting a good vibe around me and in my head.”
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The target now is Bellator featherweight champion Cris Cyborg.
Kavanagh, who has won her last two bouts, has been calling out the Brazilian-American. The Inchicore woman is preparing at John Kavanagh’s Straight Blast Gym.
She added: “I’m training hard and grafting away. I’m waiting on a big fight so I’m just getting all the rounds in and being prepared for what’s next.”