While thousands of Sixth Yeaar students are finishing up the torturous exams and weighing up college options full of excitement and hope, possibly the most unique final year student in Ireland this year is surveying the promotional landscape.
It’s big, bad world time for the 59,656 pupils that sat the 2019 Leaving Cert and the biggest and baddest world for Ireland’s youngest pro boxer – who only turned 18 in April – James Power [4(4)-0].
The Cork lightweight has his heart set on boxing full-time and wants nothing more than to make his passion his job.
“What will I do now? That’s a very good question,” he says when contacted by Irish-Boxing.com
“It’s one that I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. Boxing is my life, it’s what I love and I’ve dedicated my entire life to it. So, if I was given the opportunity to pursue a career in boxing, it’d be another dream come true. College will always be there for me, if I ever need it.”
While the majority will have to wait to see how many points they acquired from the exams before making a definitive future career choice, the ambitious 18-year-old has other numbers that are more relevant to boxing and make him standout.
Four fights, four wins, four knockouts before being legally allowed to drink should pique promotional interest, then there is that fact that he is just 18, as well as the numbers that have read about him and watched him in the national news as his story garnered wider media coverage.
Sign Power and you’ve a fighter you can build at a slow pace, one with obvious talent, and an envious profile.
However, boxing outside of Belfast in Ireland doesn’t really allow for full-time professionals. Boxing Ireland do keep fighters busy and have been reinvigorating the sport with regular shows, while DDP Sports will arrive on the scene next year. Yet, without massive promotional backing, or a supremely generous sponsor boxing and a ‘real job’ have to be mixed.
Power, it seems, wouldn’t mind a cocktail of work or indeed college with boxing at present, but feels a Cork base isn’t conducive to success in both worlds.
“In my current situation – living in Cork and training alone Monday to Friday, that career, that dream, seems to be unlikely.”
“You know yourself that training myself isn’t going to cut it as I develop as a fighter. I had no other option for the last 10 months but hopefully I can get something sorted for the future. I really want to follow my dreams and my dedication is second to none. I’ve sacrificed everything for this sport. My entire life has been school and boxing, that’s it. So of course, in an ideal world, I’ll be boxing for a long time.”
The finance element plays a massive role in the Dripsey teen’s decision. No doubt there would be sponsors willing to help out and there will be promoters outside of the big guns that might be able to put a package that works around circumstances. Also, at just 18, he doesn’t have to be taking major risks as of yet and could be given fights that do allow him study, work, and train in Cork and still progress.
Yet, Power is understandably torn. His family have financed the majority of his career to date and there are those who are advising that the college path alone is the safer option.
“It’s harder I think, to decide between school, work or boxing. It’s hard because so many people are telling me ‘play it safe, go to college and get a good decent job’, but my mind is focused on this sport and trying to live a life that doesn’t follow the same path as everyone else’s.”
Although he doesn’t suggest as much – and he was perhaps caught somewhat off guard in the path which questioning went down – the fall of Assassin Promotions in Ireland may have affected the youngster.
Assassin had big plans for the Rebel County fighter, whom they advised alongside Andy O’Neill, but because of his age he never signed a pro contract with them.
As a result, he is a free agent and is more than open to listening to offers.
“I was never signed with Assassin, they helped me out a lot with the Mexican fights and we were looking at a potential deal but with everything that has happened, that seems unlikely.
“I might seem a little lost at the moment, but I’m only 18. I am confident in my ability, I have had a good start and no one wants it more than me. I do think I need a solid promotional outfit to help me out with my career. I’m a free agent, just like Victor [Rabei, who had his Assassin’s contract handed back].”
“Perhaps this is a good thing and everything happens for a reason. At least now I might get the opportunity to speak with other promoters and managers and I can be pointed in the right direction.”
After talking openly and honestly about what the future may hold, Power did take time to reflect on what has been a unique year.
The fighter, who had been training with Pete Taylor when he could get to Dublin, juggled preparing for bouts and fighting in Hungary, Slovakia, and Mexico with his Leaving Cert.
He is confident things went well and the now former Coachford College student doesn’t believe boxing as a pro hampered his ability to perform in the classroom. Indeed the impressive talker believes being active and fit may have helped.
“I think it went well. I am not going to speak too soon, results will be in soon enough, but I’m fairly confident that I got a good Leaving Cert. I pulled back on training in the lead up to the exams, just to try and catch up on a few things that I didn’t focus on much throughout the year.”
“I don’t think fighting affected me at all. Now, I could have studied every night instead of training, and got a way better result, but where’s the fun in that!”
“I believe all children should try to stay active and adopt a healthy lifestyle. I was told by certain people at the start of the year that ‘it’s time to knuckle down now’, or ‘three to four hours of study a night is recommended’, and so on… But there’s plenty of other students that sat the Leaving Cert over the past few years that are also exceptional athletes and prove that you shouldn’t have to pick sport or school.”
“That idea that you have to devote your entire life to the exam is a bit outdated in my opinion. I think we proved that you can follow your dreams and sit the exam.”