Jude Gallagher says the featherweight pressure isn’t weighing him down going into the Commonwealth Games this weekend.
The Tyrone fighter gloves off in the prestigious tournament tomorrow afternoon when he takes on Swaziland’s Zweli Dlamini at the National Exhibition Centre.
The reigning Ulster Elite champion, who won a National Elite title with Eric Donovan in his corner, is Team NI’s representative at 57kg, a weight class that Nothern Ireland have always done well at, at the Games.
Indeed, his most recent predecessors are two of Ireland’s most gifted fighters. Michael Conlan won gold in the 2014 Games in Glasgow and did so in style.
Kurt Walker came close to emulating that success four years later when he picked up silver on the Gold Coast, losing in the final to England’s Peter McGrail.
The Two Caslte’s talent admits they are big shoes to fill but he isn’t worried about filling them. Gallagher is focused on himself and what he can do. There is also an element of just being happy to finally be embarking on an international career.
“They’re big boots to fill surely, Mick and Kurt, two absolutely brilliant boxers,” said the 20-year-old.
“But I don’t put that pressure on myself – I just try and be me. Them lads had their own journey, I have my journey. I’m still young, this is a brilliant competition to get me going internationally.
“This feels like the start of my international career at 57.”
The World and European Youth bronze medal winner broke onto the scene at a lighter weight and has grown into 57 where he claims he feels a lot stronger.
“You definitely notice the physical strength, compared to at 52 where I was massive,” he said last year, “I was towering above lads there but you notice when you go up.”