James McGivern may have hung up his gloves permanently but for the intervention of an All Ireland Winning Dublin footballer.
Kevin McManamon, who himself enjoys boxing training in the off season, helped save the career of the talented Belfast fighter.
Having won the first of the 2019 National Elite Championships the 22-year-old looked a real Olympic threat.
The St Georges ABC graduate spoke dreamly about going to the Tokyo at that time and was adamant he was going to secure a slot.
He was first pick for the European Games at light welter and reached the last 16 in Minsk. However, things went quiet very quickly after. McGivern didn’t enter the second National Elite Championships of the year and wasn’t on the radar in the second half of the year.
It seems the Commonwealth Youth Games gold medallist – came close to quitting the sport he loves after struggling with his mental health.
Now the former amateur star is preparing for the next step in his boxing journey after turning professional with MTK Global – and suggests seven time All Ireland winner and St Judes footballer McManamon played a role ensuring he didn’t hang them up.
“I had stopped boxing for personal reasons. I wasn’t in the best of places, mentally and I was struggling. I just had to step away to help myself,” McGivern told Belfast Live.
“I was training in Dublin, and the training there was great. But it wasn’t where I wanted to be. I think I just needed to come back home and recalibrate,” he adds before revealing the footballers role in his recovery.
McManamon has a Masters in psychology and has acted as a consultant with the Irish Athletic Boxing Association since 2017 – and it was during a talk that McGivern realised he needed help.
“A lot of what was said (in the talk), I could relate to,” McGivern said.
“I suppose that’s when I realised I needed to talk to someone and get help.
“Kevin helped me on my journey and I have to thank him, because without his input I don’t know where I would be now.
“I could easily have packed in boxing for good, which would be a shame because I love this sport,” he adds before revealing a text from his coach Danny Boyd alerted him to the pro adventure.
“I remember Danso texted me one day and said, ‘why don’t you go pro?’. And I just thought why not,” the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist added.