After weeks of speculation, Moate boxing star Joe Ward has confirmed that he is turning professional and has signed contract with Times Square Boxing, based in New York City.
The 25-year-old was captain of the Irish High Performance amateur boxing team and was considered one of Ireland's leading medal hopes for next year's Olympics in Tokyo.
The Farnagh native has now taken himself out of contention for the Olympic Games and the date for his professional debut is due to be revealed soon.
In a statement published by The Irish Times today, Ward said he was "excited" to begin his journey as a professional boxer.
"I loved fighting for Ireland and had a very rewarding amateur career," he said. "I was happy that I could bring success and medals to my country, and that in the past few years I could help mentor some of my younger teammates.
"My decision to turn professional was not easy. I will miss my team, however, I felt the time was right for me and my family. I’m excited to represent my country in the professional ranks and bring a world championship home to Ireland.
"I believe it is important to surround yourself with the right people and I found great partners in Joe Winters and Adam Glenn at Times Square Boxing, who understand the sport and business of boxing.
"I immediately connected with Joe Winters and the fact that Joe’s mom was from Ireland and he still has a lot of family in Ireland. I’m confident Times Square Boxing will help me achieve my professional goals to become a world champion."
* For more on this story, see next week's Westmeath Independent