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The incredible, moving story of boxer Eric Donovan

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

11:05 2 Apr 2019


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On Saturday night, Eric Donovan claimed the Irish featherweight title with a fourth round stoppage against Dubliner Stephen McAfee. For Eric, this was a milestone on the path - in his own words - to 'redemption'.

Eric gave a candid interview to Off The Ball this evening, where the topics ranged from acting out during education; the guiding hand of trainer Dominic O'Rourke when he strayed; being an inspiration to his, and other, children and his battle with mental health issues.

His story is one that is at once complex and simple: the training and preparation that go into professional boxing are impossibly difficult, but the single-mindedness of his pursuit of success means that this will not be the last of his titles.

Eric speaks about struggling with his identity when he broke his hand during the time he was training for London 2012, and the fear and guilt that he felt of not realising a talent that was clear to him from a very early age. Boxing and Eric Donovan are inextricably linked, and it feels that the former has a lot more to hear from the latter.

Not many young fighters take nine months to train in Kazakhstan, without the language, but armed with a desire to get better. 'Breaking Bad' was one of the few home comforts, but gradually learning Russian helped him to communicate to his trainer and his sparring partners. As tends to happen with mature students, organic education sparked in Eric a desire to learn more. His enrolment in college came parallel to self-teaching a little bit of Irish, to the delight of those watching the fight on TG4!

Take a few minutes out of your day to understand just what the title meant to Eric and his family, and how this has sparked a desire to help other people by spreading his story and getting a wider audience for the lessons that he has learned along the way.

The podcast with Eric is here.

Subscribe to Off The Ball's YouTube channel for more videos, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for the latest sporting news and content.


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