The best of the best go to Belgrade

Christopher O’Flaherty speaks to amateur boxer Kelyn Cassidy.

By Christopher O’Flaherty

Ireland competed in the AIBA world boxing championships between the 24th October and 6th November in Belgrade, Serbia. The sat down with heavyweight contender Kelyn Cassidy to discuss his experience as an amateur boxer so far and how he got to where he is today.

When did you start boxing?

I started boxing when I was 16/17. I had one fight when I was younger and kind of packed it in and then went back when I was 16. I had my first fight when I was 17. I got to the All-Ireland final that year. I never imagined I would be going to Belgrade to fight. It has always been a hobby. I’ve been boxing for seven years. I’m currently 24.

Who is your biggest motivation?

It’s an individual sport. I don’t have a particular thing that motivates me. The motivation is the fact that it’s all on you. The highs are on you and the lows are on you. It’s your responsibility, no one is going to do it for you. To be honest, there’s not really any famous boxer I look up to in particular. I don’t really watch many of the professional fights. Like I said, boxing has always been a hobby.

What has it been like accomplishing something as amazing as going to Belgrade for the World Championships?

To be honest, you are probably the hundredth person to ask and it still hasn’t hit me yet. I just box to have fun and to have the craic.I never expected to go to the largest amateur boxing event in the world if you’re not counting the Olympics.

You must live quite a busy life with training. What does the average day of Kelyn look like?

Well, I work full time as well. I am a qualified toolmaker by trade. I get up before work and go for a run. I do my shift in work and then train in the evening. Boxing training is on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Gym sessions are on a Tuesday and Thursday. It’s pretty intense working and training but you just got to do what you got to do. I’ve still got to pay the bills at the end of the day. 

How do you balance your social life as well?

Ah,  I do live a good social life to be fair. When I’m off season,  I’ll enjoy myself. My boss always told me ‘you work hard you play hard’ and it’s absolutely true. On the other hand my girlfriend Megan, she only barely gets to see me during the on season. She asks me to go to dinner and I would say “I can’t I’m making weight hahaha” 

Obviously, boxing is a sport that’s very hard on the body but also quite hard on the mind. What do you do to keep your mental health in check during your training?

You know if I  have something serious like a competition, I will play some football with the lads or I’ll play some PlayStation, maybe a bit of pool or bowling, just keep the mind off boxing for the meantime so I’m not thinking about it all the time.

You recently did a boxing camp out in Sheffield before the Championships. How was the atmosphere and how was the experience?

Yes, it  was unbelievable . To be out there with the best of the best with four other countries and going out there showing that I was made for this sport. I’ve got to prove to myself that I deserve to be there. It was something else.

Do you feel confident?

Yeah, to be fair I have to give a big shoutout to Joe Ward. He’s been a real help and a great sparring partner for the last year. It just goes to show that I am up there and I can compete.

Have you ever considered going pro?

No, not really. I’ve no interest in it right now, that pro game just isn’t really for me. It’s a hard road and I never said boxing would be my money maker or my bread winner.

Cassidy made it all the way to the Quarter Finals in Belgrade, but was unfortunately defeated by unanimous-decision. However, he can be extremely proud of his efforts over the past week.

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