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Hours to Live: The Incredible Comeback Story of Richie O’Leary

There are comeback stories and there is the tale of Richie O’Leary’s resurgence.

Even in a sport famed for its inspiring revivals, the Dubliner’s is epic, maybe even one of boxing’s greatest and he has yet to throw a pro punch.

This Friday on the JB Promotions ‘Stars of the Future’ card at the Warehouse in the Red Cow, O’Leary will complete a journey from death’s door to the boxing ring in under a year.

Last year the underage Irish title winner was battling demons rather than boxing opponents and things got to a point that he attempted suicide.

Brought to the hospital he was given hours to live but, after four days in a coma, he managed to survive, He has since battled back to full health, returned to the amateur ring, and is now on the verge of a pro career.

“I was in a cycle I couldn’t get myself out of it. As I said [speaking to Boxing Tickets NI] I ended up in hospital last year. I tried to commit suicide and I was in a coma for four days,” a brave and honest O’Leary tells Irish-boxing.com.

It may seem strange to tell the tale through the lens of sport and boxing. O’Leary is alive and healthy and, as such, has already won.

However, boxing is intrinsically linked to the story. It appears that fight career regrets weighed heavily and a desire to rid himself of said regrets is what now drives him forward.

O’Leary awoke from his coma with tunnel vision, was back in the gym within days of departing the hospital, working off a newfound boxing-inspired purpose and drive.

“When I got out of the hospital I just said ‘no regrets’. I was in a situation where I felt I didn’t want to have any regrets in my life. I’m going to give this another crack and hopefully do something with it.

“I was doing a little bit of training but I was drinking and partying. I wasn’t fighting and that happened and I’ve had tunnel vision ever since. I’m hoping it takes off and we’ll have a good run at it. I definitely have unfinished business. I’m full of regrets from the last few years.”

There really is a sense of redemption about O’Leary’s return. For him it seems the success isn’t all about battling back from poor mental health, proving his capabilities in the ring remains important.

The Jay Byrne-managed soon-to-be debutant feels he has wasted years career-wise and is coming to get them back.

“When I came of age I kind of fell away, 17 or 18, I kinda fell out of love with boxing and I started going off doing other things. I’m back now and I’m trying to rescue the career before it gets too late. I’ve regrets over what I didn’t do when I was younger, so I’m back to right a few wrongs as well and hopefully reach bigger highs than was expected of me back then.”

Possibly because the honest and open boxer reads his back story differently than most, he doesn’t see himself as a mental health advocate.

However, the recent Intermediate Championships semi-finalist’s story is one of hope and inspiration and is one he is happy to share just in case it can help.

“It just shows you anyone can come back from anything. They were giving me a couple of hours to live when I was first brought into the hospital,” he continues.

“If someone takes inspiration from that, great. Please God it does help. As I’ve said, there is always a way of getting back no matter what your worries are, financial, relationships, or you’re just down. It doesn’t matter how far down there is always a stepping stone to get back into a good place. Doing that is not the way out,” he continues in extremely honest fashion.

“Obviously, you feel it is at the time, you feel there is no one around you even when you have a room of people around you. In your head you’re on your own, it’s a horrible scary place to be but you can get through it and you do realise you’re not alone and there is more to life.”

If you are in distress and need help now, you can call the Pieta House 24 hour helpline at 1800 247 247 or call Samaritans at 116 123.


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