Shauna O' Keeffe Browne is now No I in Ireland after Katie Taylor turned professional.
Stepping into the shoes of such an iconic figure as Katie Taylor is a daunting challenge but one that a twenty two year old Clonmel boxer is embracing with characteristic determination and desire .
Having overcome a career threatening injury, Shauna O’Keeffe Browne is ranked No I in Ireland following the departure of Katie Taylor to the professional ranks and has her sights set on the Olympics in Tokyo 2020.
“Believe in yourself, there is nobody out there that you cannot beat” were the words of encouragement Katie Taylor had for Shauna as she embarks on a journey to claim the mantle of the Olympic champion.
Last November Shauna stepped into the ring in a national final to fight Katie Taylor for the Irish 60kg lightweight title.
“It was all I ever dreamed of since I was fourteen. I was so excited, I was under no pressure at all, it was a learning curve for me,” said Shauna who was defeated in the final but takes on the Number I role now following the announcement last month by Katie Taylor that she is turning professional.
“Stepping into her shoes is some challenge. They are big shoes to fill. Katie is rooting for me, which means so much to me”, said Shauna who travels to Sofia on Monday to represent Ireland for the first time in the senior elite ladies team in the European championships.
Reaching a senior elite national final and now assuming the No 1 rank is a remarkable achievement for the Clonmel boxer who feared her career was finished. She only returned to the ring in 2015 following a traumatic two year absence from the sport because of a serious knee injury.
Displaying great strength of character and an unquenchable desire to return to the sport, Shauna is now availing of the second chance that was so difficult for her to earn.
“It was hard going because I did not know whether I was going to box again. I was not going to give up. I was a long time out and I had a lot to do to get back into the ring so I am determined to make the most of it now”, said Shauna who spent last weekend training with the Irish team in Sheffield in preparation for the European championships.
That knee injury interrupted a very promising boxing career which began in 2008 when she joined Clonmel Boxing Club whose coaches have supported her all the way since then.
Less than a year later she became an Irish champion in 2009 at the age of fourteen in the 57kg category. She went on to win national titles in the 60 kg category in 2010 and 2011 and represented Ireland in the European championships as a junior boxer and in the World championships as a youth and went on to win the inaugural Celtic Box Cup championship in 2013.
She then sustained the career threatening injury which cost her two years. Shauna had two operations before starting the gruelling and disciplined journey of physio and all of the work required before returning to the ring could be contemplated.
She returned to win another Celtic Box Cup title in September 2015 before winning an Intermediate national title the following month which enabled her to take part in the senior championship that November..
Her reward for a semi final victory was a final showdown with Katie Taylor, a challenge she took on with great enthusiasm.
“It was an amazing experience to step into the ring with her”, said Shauna who was called into the senior ladies elite team in January of this year as a result of her meteoric rise during 2015.
Shauna travelled to Bulgaria earlier this year to make her debut with the senior Irish team.
The call up to the Irish elite senior team in January involved travelling to Dublin for day long training sessions every Tuesday and Friday which meant she had to give up her job in Clonmel.
“I had to focus on the boxing and just could not continue to work late nights in a pub and turn up to such demanding training sessions in Dublin”, said Shauna who is now seeking sponsorship from business interests in Tipperary to support her in realising her ambition of representing Ireland in the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.