Katie Taylor – a Religious Educator in the Public Square?

katie taylor

“Katie Taylor is a female boxer, which is rare enough, but she is also a born again Christian and unafraid to talk about her faith. Among young Irish people that makes her even rarer than a female boxer.”

The above quote was found within an article on www.irishcentral.com/opinion/others/when-irishwoman-katie-taylor-goes-for-olympic-gold-i-wont-be-watching-152528205-238132771.html and although I did not necessarily agree with what the author had to say overall I couldn’t help but be drawn to these particular words. It sums up exactly why I believe Katie Taylor can be viewed as a Religious Educator within the public square for two reasons. Firstly, she has strength (female boxer, strong faith) which many Irish young people lack in their faith today. Secondly, she is unafraid (female boxer, public expression of faith) which is in deep contrast to many Irish young people who would rather you asked them to show you the colour of their underwear than their religious orientation.

*Katie Taylor is a born-again Christian and attends St. Mark’s Pentecostal Church, Pearse Street, Dublin.*She attends Mass every Sunday with her parents.

*She was first coached in boxing by her father at age 12.

*She has won four gold medals at the World Amateur Championships and five gold medals at the European Amateur Championships.

*She was a gold medal winner at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Katie finds comfort and inspiration from the below passages during her training:

It is God that equipped me with strength and made my way perfect. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.  He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.  You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.  Psalm 18

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; May the name of the God of Jacob protect you.  May he send you help from the sanctuary And grant you support from Zion.  May he remember all your sacrifices And accept your burnt offerings.  May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.  May we shout for joy over your victory And lift up our banners in the name of our God. Psalm 20 

After her semi-final win at the Olympics London 2012 Katie said the following: 

katie taylor semi final

“It was a great win. An Olympic final tomorrow, what can I say. God is great. He is my shield, my strength. Glory to God. I have to go and be focused for tomorrow and forget about today. It’s a different fight altogether.”
After winning Gold at the Olympics in London 2012 Katie said the following: 
olympic win 3
olympic win 2
“I’m an Olympic champion. I’ve dreamed of this moment so many times before and now I’m here I just can’t believe the grace of God in my life right now. I just want to thank everyone for all their prayers, I’ve said it there yesterday aswell but all the prayers over the last week, I’d be nothing without God and I’m here because of the grace of God in my life and because of, you know, Jesus in my life, without him I’d be nothing really. So, praise God, thank you Jesus for such a great victory today.”
So why is Katie Taylor an example of Religious Education in the Public Square? 
*She is leading young people by example to not be afraid to express their faith in their everyday life.
*She is inspiring all young people to speak about their faith regardless of which religious background they come from.
*She has opened the doors for young people to re-engage with their faith and to openly discuss it with those around them at home and within the classroom.
*She is highlighting that our faith can have a place in all aspects of our lives.

*She teaches young people that their faith can be a source of guidance, inspiration and motivation.

According to leading sports psychologist Dr. Olivia Hurley:  

“When she talks about God and the angels being in the ring with her, she really means it. She is empowered by her beliefs. And when she speaks of how people’s prayers have helped her; there’s no doubt in my mind that she derives huge support from that. Some sports people look up to other figures in sport for inspiration or read motivational books like Lance Armstrong’s (It’s Not About The Bike: My Journey Back to Life) to help them compete and Katie does much the same, except her icon is God and her motivational reading is the Bible.“

I believe young people in Ireland should not be afraid or ashamed to feel the same empowerment from their faith as Katie Taylor and to utilise it in their everyday lives. 🙂

olympic win