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In our ongoing ‘Road to the Olympics’ series, BOXRAW speak with some of the most exciting Olympic stars about their own paths to the Games. Next up, Ireland team captain Brendan Irvine discusses his past Rio experience and hopes for Tokyo.
Fighter Fact File
Full name: Brendan Irvine
Hometown: West Belfast
Walk out song: Danza Kuduro
Favourite fighter: Vasyl Lomachenko
Favourite/best fight: Ray Robinson vs. Jake LaMotta
Fantasy opponent: Manny Pacquiao
Cheat meal: Pizza or Mexican
Hobby outside of boxing: Fishing
Dream place to fight: MSG or MGM
Favourite punch: Back hand lead hook
Best thing about training: Knowing that you gave it 100% and you’re busted
First of all, can you explain how you first got into boxing?
My neighbour 'Kerzo' first got me into boxing. He was a keep-fitter at a local gym and took me around to try it out.
Are there any particular fighters that have inspired you in your own career so far?
Yes, there are so many fighters from Ireland who have inspired me, such as Carl Frampton, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan.
How did it feel to finally know you were going to be a two-time Olympian?
It was crazy to be honest. I always dreamed of getting to the Olympics as a kid and now going for my second time is something really special.
How beneficial is your Olympics experience going into another Games?
Yes, it's very important. At the first Games I was a bit caught up in the whole Olympic circus. But now I'm more experienced and know exactly what to expect.
How do you manage to deal with the pressure and expectations of being a leading medal contender this summer?
I try not to look ahead too much and take it day by day and step by step. But knowing I have the support back home is a great feeling and that really drives me on.
How much of an impact did the postponement of the Olympics, the global pandemic and overall lockdowns have on your preparations?
It had a big impact for everyone that aims for the Olympics as absolutely nobody was certain that they would go ahead. For me it was all about keeping a routine and continuing to work and aiming as if they were always going ahead.
How would you describe your style for those who haven’t seen you fight?
I would describe myself as a boxer who moves but also likes to have a fight in the centre of the ring at times too.
Are you planning to turn professional after the Olympics or carry on for further amateur success?
I don't know what my plans for after the Olympics are just yet. I'm just taking it in my stride and enjoying the whole experience first of all.
What are your thoughts on the Olympics having no crowds allowed and how much of an effect will this have?
No, it doesn't have too much of an effect on you when you're in the ring. It's you and your opponent and that's all that matters.
Do you feel that amateur boxing has improved its scoring, judges and officials at international tournaments?
I think from the last games there has been an improvement as people were a lot more aware of the past issues.
Finally, what are your short and long term goals in boxing at this stage of your career?
My ultimate goal is to win an Olympic medal and then make my mind up about what to do next. I don't like to look too far ahead. I like to focus on the now.
Header image: IABA