From tearaway teen to boxing hero, Kellie Harrington’s story would make a great sports drama. The athlete was greeted by a crowd when she arrived at her native Dublin this week after checking off one of the most important victories of her career: becoming an Olympic champion. Harrington defeated Brazilian boxer Beatriz Ferreira, winner of the 2019 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in the lightweight division, winning one of the only two Olympic gold medals for her country this year.
Who is Kellie Harrington?
As a teen, Kellie Harrington had no goals in life. She was a derelict, a tearaway, and – as she revealed in an interview in 2019 – could’ve very well ended up in prison. Instead, she ended up in a gym where she started boxing when she was 14. She never went professional but did great at an amateur level: she won her first silver medal at the 2017 European Union Amateur Boxing Championships in Cascia, Italy, then her first gold at the 2018 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in New Delhi, India.
Harrington is an inspiration for many. She is one of the almost 200 openly gay athletes to participate at the 2021 Summer Olympics – she was supported by her partner of 12 years. She is a role model for many girls in her native Dublin – her success in the ring has inspired many girls to take up boxing. And she has gone from a tearaway to a successful athlete who always bends house betting odds in her favour, a flagbearer for Ireland at the Summer Olympics, and a gold medalist.
Congratulations are in order
At this point, Kellie Harrington is a true hero to Ireland. Irish President Michael D. Higgins called her achievement “an inspiration for all of us”. Fellow Olympic gold medalist Michael Carruth (1982) greeted her with “Enjoy the celebrations, welcome to the club champ”. Irish professional boxing legend Katie Taylor – who also won an Olympic gold medal in 2012 – has also chimed in, congratulating the fresh champion.
And so did Conor McGregor, Ireland’s most famous export, also expressed his appreciation for Harrington’s performance. “God bless you, Kelly Harrington,” he wrote. “What a journey! In the background then emerged forward, and then went and done absolutely everything you said you were going to do. Olympic Gold medal champion! The condition you are in is incredible. Real work ethic. Congratulations Kelly.”