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Fighting Footballer Jay Byrne on life as a dual sportsman

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Jay Byrne [1(1)-0] returns to the ring next month on the MHD Promotions card at the Europa Hotel as the Dubliner continues to juggling being a tough tackler and a power puncher.

The Loughlinstown man is player-coach of Enniskerry YC who ply their trade in the Senior 1B division in the Leinster Senior League,

If you don’t find Byrne on the training pitch you can find him in the gym, and the 29 year old took some time out of his hectic schedule to peak to Irish-Boxing.com ahead of his fight in Belfast on October 8th.

The cheerful Dub wont elicit much sympathy from the more pudgy among us, as he revealed that he doesn’t have much trouble juggling the two sports. Indeed Byrne’s ‘problem’ is that he finds himself ‘too’ muscular.

“Believe it or not, the only problem I have with the both sports is that, when my last fight was over, I was mainly playing football while giving the boxing a break – and my quads got huge!”

“Now I’m back boxing and I’ve massive quads, so in turn the weight is up.”

Byrne expects to bring a big crowd with him up the M1 next month to see his fight with Liam Griffiths, including many of his team-mates. Thankfully for the North Wicklow side, they wont be expected to tog out bleary-eyed the following day as Byrne explains that “we’ve actually the weekend off as a good few of the lads are planning on travelling up as it’s also my 30th that week.”

While his team-mates get to enjoy seeing their coach knock people out (and some may also enjoy seeing the gaffer get the occasional dig), they also have to endure a different type of training. Byrne described how “I used a lot of my strength and conditioning work from my amateur days for pre-season last year and iI also have them in the altitude chamber as much as I can.”

It has been often said that boxing requires a different type, and a different level, of fitness than team sports, and this is a sentiment which Byrne wholeheartedly agrees with. He outlined how “being honest. football fitness is nothing compared to the boxing.”

“When I played League of Ireland, the track was a nightmare whereas now I have no problems with it.”

“I find I’m a step ahead on the pitch in the weeks coming up to fights and a lot sharper and quicker.”

Byrne debuted in June at the National Stadium on an FS Promotions card in association with Ricky Hatton. Starting off at light middleweight, he scored a second round knockout of the dangerous Gabor Ambrus. The win came mere weeks after he led Enniskerry YC to the Leinster Senior League Sunday Major title and the Tom Cullen Cup, but there was no comparison for Byrne who proudly states that “the KO was the best sporting moment in my life.”

“I had so many people tell me I was silly taking the opponent and that it was suicide.”

“I also had the ones saying I shouldn’t have turned pro as I hadnt much amateur experience blah blah blah.”

“I had a massive following that night of people who know me closely and know that, when commit to something, I make sure I get the best out of it and I think thats what I’m doing! ”

Byrne hopes to have a similarly massive following in Belfast next month, and thanked his sponsors for helping facilitate an away day for his fans. He explained that “I recently got a new sponsor from a local shop, Centra Monkstown, they are delighted to help me with some funding which is greatly appreciated as I’m paying for the bus to Belfast for my fans to keep their cost down.”

“Thanks to all my other sponsors as well for their help keeping me going, The Ramblers Rest, Matt Britton Carpets, MC Motors, and HI-SPEC TECH.”

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie