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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-06-21 07:48:54




We live in a time when the definition of
what it means to be a mother is being
entirely rewritten. In 2016, that could
mean supporting a champion an Olympic
gold medal, maintaining an international
modelling career as a single mum or coming
back after a career break. Jessica O’Sullivan
talks to three very different women who have
ripped up the mothering rulebook.


“She doesn’t get the attention,
but she’s the one who does
the most out of all of us”

WORLD CHAMPION BOXER KATIE TAYLOR CREDITS However, the emotional support that
Katie has needed with such a physically,
HER MOTHER BRIDGET FOR HELPING HER BECOME emotionally and mentally demanding career
has come in spades over the years from
I THE WOMAN SHE IS TODAY. “There weren’t many female boxers. It Bridget. “She’s my go-to woman if I’m
f the saying ‘behind every great wasn’t even a sanctioned sport for women in feeling down,” says Katie. “Everyone sees
man stands a great woman’ ever Ireland at the time, never mind the you on the podium but there are days when
needed updating, it would be to say Olympics,” says Bridget. “She’s been the training isn’t going as well as you’d like.
that behind every champion stands trailblazer for it from the get-go.” They’re the times when you need good
a dedicated woman – usually a people around you, like my mam.”

mother. Katie Taylor and her And the weight of this responsibility is For Bridget seeing Taylor fulfill her
dream was really special, but some of her
mother Bridget are the embodiment of this not lost on Katie. “I take it very seriously. proudest moments have been when Katie
has had to dust herself off after a defeat.
notion. The two have just finished a shoot It’s not something I thought of when I “It’s not all about the successes, sometimes
it’s the failures – when you come back after
for P&G as part of its ‘Thank You, Mum’ first started boxing. Then when you start failing and have the drive to pick yourself
up, they’re very proud moments. They’re
campaign for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games winning matches and not getting the the things that build character. It’s easy if
you’re always winning.”
which recognises and celebrates mothers recognition that some of the male boxers
“It’s never easy to lose,” concedes Taylor.
for the important roles they play in their get...I felt a bit of frustration at the start,” “It’s always a hard thing when you’ve
worked so hard and things don’t work out
family’s lives, a campaign the Taylor she admits. “But I kept my head down and the way you feel they should have.” But
rather than dwell on the losses, Bridget has
women also took part in for London 2012. kept training.” Bridget says that eventually encouraged Katie to use them to check in
with herself; to reaffirm that a life of boxing
It’s apparent where the athlete gets her the powers that be couldn’t ignore the fact is her true calling.

strength of character and down-to-earth that her daughter kept coming through the “Katie’s first International Championships
away, both her Europeans and her Worlds,
attitude. It has become Taylor’s signature doors of Dublin Airport with medals. she was beaten in them,” explains Bridget.
“You’re looking at the person crying in the
style outside of the ring as much as her bout- Another battle that female athletes face is changing room and it’s a whole different
scenario. There’s no joy in the camp. [Katie]
winning skills have inside, though Bridget actually being allowed to be athletes was so upset for the whole week. I remember
asking her after she lost, ‘Would you have
questions if she were in her daughter’s without the need to ‘sex’ up their appearance rather stayed at home and not have tried, or
come out and experienced it, even to be
boxing boots whether she would be able to and on this point Bridget is adamant. beaten?’ She said: ‘No I’m glad I came out.’”

maintain Katie’s kind of level-headedness. “That’s not what sport is about – you don’t Bridget offers advice for mothers with a
child on the cusp of taking a road less
“Sometimes I wonder if I’d stay so grounded. need to sex it up. You want to be recognised travelled. “Support them. Don’t deprive
them of following something that’s in their
What you see is what you get with Katie. I for your ability, not for anything else.” This hearts. People are happy when they are
achieving the dreams they want to see
like that about her. She’s quiet and humble.” resolve is clearly what has helped Katie stay fulfilled. Have faith in them.”

Katie is known to be softly spoken, even true to her beliefs regardless of any “If you have a passion, go for it,” agrees
Katie. “That’s what I was always told
shy at times, but when I meet her she’s campaign or promotion she has undertaken. to do, even though there were so many
people against women’s boxing. Nothing is
notably more animated with the positive “We wouldn’t let anyone dictate to us what impossible at the end of the day. Sometimes
it just takes one girl to be brave and step out
energy of her mother by her side. While we were going to wear,” Katie laughs, even and be a pioneer to change perceptions.”

Katie attributes her sporting prowess to though at times it has been no laughing

her father, she says the P&G campaign matter. At the World Championships a few

highlights the important, often background years ago, a rule that female boxers had to

role her mother has played in her success. wear skirts was almost introduced. “I

“Our whole family is the way it is because refused to wear the skirt,” she says defiantly.

of the way our mam is. She doesn’t get the “I had to make a stand. Simple things like

attention but she’s the one who does the that are important.”

most out of all of us.” Throughout her career, Katie has done a

When Katie got serious about boxing lot of her growing up in the media, standing

at 11, Bridget didn’t bat an eye, though in the spotlight on the bad days as well as

she says it did raise a few eyebrows in the the good. As a woman it can feel like you

community to have a girl training alongside are subject to a different level of scrutiny

the boys. “Boxing was in the family, so it when you’re in the public gaze. “I don’t like

didn’t feel strange when she took it up. It questions about my relationship status. You

was quite a natural progression,” explains wouldn’t ask men that question. I’m always

Bridget. Even so, Bridget was aware of the surprised that people are so interested in

ground that Katie was quietly breaking, not that side of things. But that’s part and

just in boxing but in women’s sports. parcel. I just grin and bear it.”

“It’s not all about
the successes,
sometimes it’s the
failures – when
you come back
after failing and
have the drive to
pick yourself up,
they’re very proud
moments. They’re
the things that
build character”

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