Emotional Regan Buckley admits Seniors dream never left him


“My Dad and I will go home tonight and have a big cry, we can say we done it,” Regan Buckley told Irish-boxing.com minutes after he became one of 11 new Irish Elite Champions on Saturday night.

However, considering he was fighting tears of joy with the same fortitude and determination as he had just fought Seán Mari with in the 49kg decider, there is no doubt the floodgates opened well before the trip back to Bray was completed.

It shows just how much it meant to the man the call ‘Rego’.

Buckley had just completed a childhood dream, in fact he achieved the first ever boxing dream he had on the South Circular Road and the hard-working St Teresa’s man couldn’t hide delight.

“It means the world to me,” he said.

“This was my first ever goal. I was training for this ever since I started boxing. I used to go to the Elites every year and look up to the champions. I always prayed one day I will be up there and today I did it. Today is my day and it’s absolutely perfect.”

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What may make it extra special is the fact it was a dream that he all but looked to make impossible when he turned pro back at the start of 2015.

New goals were set then and the amateurs looked well in his rear view mirror. However, after just two fights – one an all Irish win over now BUI Celtic and Irish champion Carl McDonald – ‘The Rocket’ became somewhat frustrated with the pro ranks and dug out his vest from the bottom of the wardrobe.

Some time was spent readjusting to the amateurs and after Haringey and Irish Under-22 success he can now bask in the glory of a first Seniors final win.

“When I turned over I kinda had to lose this and change the dream, but it never really left me,” noted the Wicklow 21-year-old.

“As soon as I made the decision I was coming back I said I want all the titles. Now I have the title I have always trained for. I feel like crying in here,” he added before dedicating the success to his father and coach Mark.

“My Dad has been working for this as long as I have. This is for him because he is the one getting me up at six and five in the morning and training with me three times a day. This is his as much as mine.”

A host of winners were understandably overjoyed at a well-attended Stadium on Saturday. However, some of those champions were celebrating not just winning the trophy, but the fact victory puts them in pole position to be selected to represent Ireland in the various Olympic qualifiers set for 2019.

That wasn’t the case for Buckley, who was beaten by Stevie McKenna in the 2016 decider, which again proves his reaction shows just how much the win means on a personal level.

To accommodate the addition of more female Olympic weights, 49kg is no longer a male category at the Olympic Games and while Buckley can go to major tournaments this year Toyko won’t be part of his travel plans.

For such an ambitious fighter, who managed to fight as high as super bantamweight in the pros, it was a surprise for some that he didn’t try and enter the National Elites at 52kgs this year.

Pushed on the point he was adamant he has time and he is better off listening to his body and fighting at his natural weight.

“Look I’ll move up to that weight when I am ready. You have to listen to your body on these things.

“Also there is a one step at a time element. There is no point in me worrying about the Olympics when I haven’t won the Elites yet.

“Now I won this I can get the International experience and I move up when my body is ready to move up. I shouldn’t have been boxing at the weights I was in the pros. As soon as my body is ready to move then we will go to work at that weight.”

Having proven himself the best in Ireland at the weight the dedicated and motivated operator hopes he can prove he is an elite International fighter not just Ireland elite 49kg operator.

He was not selected by High Performance head honcho Bernard Dunne for the team that will head to the European Under-22s next week but hopes that he will be on the plane to Minsk for the European Games – which could lead to the World Championships in Yekaterinburg.

“There is no reason why I shouldn’t, I have put the work in and I have proved I deserve to be there and there is no reason I can’t medal,” he said before reflecting on his victory over Mari.

“I knew I had to press him early and put my mark on him. I caught him with a few nice shots in the first round. He wasn’t looking to stand back and open his guard after that. He shelled up so I knew then I could go back to the jab. I could mix it up.”

buckley win

Buckley certainly looked on course for victory as he out-fought a progressing teen, but some of his supporters got a scare when he was deducted a point in the third for hitting low. However, the fighter himself was never concerned.

“I was throwing the body shots – but his shorts were pulled up a lot. I was thinking what’s going on here, the ref only said it to me once. I thought his shorts were pulled up and he was crouched over a lot.”

“I wasn’t worried. I knew as soon as the last bell went I had it. I won every round.”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)

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Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com