Bernard Dunne has urged young Irish talent to try secure International amateur success before turning pro.
The High Performance Director believes boxers are ditching the vest too early searching for the glitz and glam of pro life.
Paddy Donovan is probably the most high profile teen to sign a pro contract of late, but in recent years a number of younger fighters have ditched the vest.
The former super bantamweight world champion and the man who inspired Dublin’s most successful pro boxing era admits turning over is part of the natural progression, but believes young talent is making the leap too soon.
“People think pro boxing is all glitz and glam. It is for a small percentage.”
“But there’s not too many Michael Conlans in this world. The natural progression is to go professional but now I think kids are going way too early,” Dunne told the Irish Sun.
Dunne believes young talent should work in a bid to become part of the funded High Performance set up and argues securing international amateur success can only prove beneficial in terms of any potential pro career.
“If you’re good enough, come into the system, push yourself, try to get yourself into the High Performance Unit, try to achieve international success and then give yourselves a platform to launch. Nowadays guys are turning 16 and going pro. Why? For what?”
“We want to treat them in a way they want to stay and be part of a system. That’s not just treating them as a high-performance athlete but as a person.”
Dunne was speaking in the wake of Regan Buckley’s successful return to the amateur ranks. The Bray fighter had a two fight pro stint before trying back on the vest. The St Teresa’s man has since won a National Elite title and secured bronze at the recent European Games.
However, while Buckley is now a good example of what can be achieved in the amateurs there are some who will argue the pro ranks were the only option they had – and whilst making that argument may point to a lack of funding or opportunity, their place in the pecking order at a particular weight or a style more suited to the paid element of the sweet science.
Indeed, Dunne himself has come in for some very heavy criticism for his handling of youth talent, with the High Performance not bringing full teams to underage tournaments and taking an approach which seems to prioritse medals than gaining experience for as many boxers as possible.