In a major boost for Irish amateur boxing, Joe Ward has agreed terms to stay amateur through to the 2020 Olympic Games in Toyko.
Speaking to the Westmeath Independent this afternoon (Wednesday), the Moate man said he had been given a contract that would provide him with secure funding for the next three years.
Ward received offers from promoters who wanted him to turn professional, but made his decision after meeting with Bernard Dunne, the High Performance Director for the Irish Athletic Boxing Association.
The 23-year-old said it was "a massive relief" to now have certainty about the coming years.
"It's something that needed to be done. I got the security that I wanted. I saw Bernard Dunne's vision for the future of amatuer boxing here and I've bought into that, so we're moving forward."
Ward has also been named as captain of the Irish boxing team for the coming years, starting with the world championships in Germany in late August.
"To be made Irish captain is a great honour, especially at such a young age. It's all positive and I'm looking forward to going to the world championships and hopefully performing well over there.
"We have five (boxers) going to the worlds, which really feels like a team. If it was less than that, it would feel more like a group of individuals."
Ward made history last month when he secured his third gold medal at European senior championships in Ukraine. Locals organised a homecoming reception in Moate to celebrate his terrific achievement.