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Andy Lee – New World Boxing Champion from Ireland
Acrylics on 300 gsm paper, unframed
20″ by 30″

Lee was born in London, England to Irish parents. In 1998, his parents returned to Castleconnell, County Limerick in Ireland with their six children.[1][2] Lee had previously been training at the Repton Boxing Club in London from the age of eight, and upon his family’s return to Ireland, Lee and his brothers joined St Francis ABC in Limerick, where his boxing career took off.[2]

Lee signed his first professional contract with Manny Steward in 2005. He then moved to Detroit, Michigan where he lived with his longtime manager and trainer until Steward passed away in 2012. Following his death, Lee moved to London where he joined up with English trainer Adam Booth[3] It was with Booth that Lee won the WBO belt in 2014, becoming the first Irish boxer to win a world title on American soil since 1934. Lee is also the first member of the Irish Traveler community or any Traveler community to win a world title.[4]

Amateur career[edit]
2002 | World Junior Championships[edit]
Lee represented Ireland at the 2002 World Junior championships in Santiago de Cuba, competing in the middleweight category. Lee fought five times in a week beating Ismail Sillakh and USA favourite Jesus Gonzales but lost the final to Cuban boxer Noelvis Diaz to claim the silver medal.[1][2]

2003 | World Amateur Championships[edit]
At the World Amateur Championships in Bangkok, Lee was beaten on points by eventual winner Gennady Golovkin who also defeated Lucian Bute and Matt Korobov on his way to the gold medal.

2004 | European Amateur Championships[edit]
Lee traveled to Pula, Croatia for the European Amateur Championships in February 2004. He earned a bronze medal in the competition, and thereby qualified for the 2004 Summer Olympics at just nineteen years of age.[2]

2004 | European Union Amateur Championships[edit]
In June 2004, Lee won silver at the EU Amateur Championships. He lost to the vastly experienced, former world champion, Marian Simion in the Middleweight final.

2004 | Olympic Games[edit]
Lee’s first fight of the the 2004 Olympics was against Mexican boxer Alfredo Angulo, who Lee defeated 38:23 on points. In the second round, Lee faced Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam of Cameroon. After four rounds the fight was drawn 27:27 and the bout was decided by “count-back”. The verdict went the way of the Cameroonian, which ended Lee’s hopes of a medal.[1][2] Lee was bitterly disappointed in the result and stated “I just didn’t fight to my ability. But when I got back home the people treated me like I’d won the gold medal.”[1][2]

2003 – 2005 | Irish Amateur Championships[edit]
In February 2003, aged seventeen, Lee fought for the Irish senior amateur title in the middleweight division. That year he was beaten in the final by Belfast man Eamonn O’Kane. The following year, Lee won the title after overcoming Patrick Murray for the honour. In 2005 Lee retained the title, this time by defeating Eamonn O’Kane in the final.[5]

Professional career[edit]
After the Olympics, the Irish Sports Council had stated that they were prepared to fund Lee in order for him to continue at amateur level and compete at the Beijing Olympics. Lee however turned this offer down and signed a professional contract with trainer-manager Emanuel Steward, who had followed Lee’s progress since the World Junior Championships. Lee subsequently emigrated to the United States where he trained at Steward’s world renowned Kronk Gym in Detroit.[2][6] Lee made an immediate impression, with Steward recalling – “The first time he’d flown from Ireland to Chicago, then to Detroit, and he wanted to spar. I said ‘No, you must have jet lag.’ But he insisted, so I put him in with Cornelius Bundrage, who was then undefeated. Andy pulled a mouthpiece out of his pocket, borrowed boots from one guy and gloves from another, then he doggone whooped ‘K-9’s ass.”[7]

His first professional bout was in March 2006, at the Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, in which Lee beat Anthony Cannon on a points decision over six rounds on a card that featured Johnathon Banks.


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