Daniel O’Sullivan’s pro debut fittingly has strange roots, a painful beating inflicted on him by Niall O’Connor.
The Dublin fighter officially joins the paid ranks when he trades leather at the Europa Hotel on June 25 – and instantly becomes a pro with one of world boxing’s most unique backstories.
Forget the road less traveled, O’Sullivan forged his own pathway to pros. Muhammad Ali caught his eye as a 16-year-old and sparked an interest in the sport that lead him on a not-so-traditional journey to the pro ring.
By 17 he was frequenting the Celtic Warriors Gym and from there, his interest grew to love before morphing into an obsession. Eventually, a hooked O’Sullivan became known within the wider boxing family, first as the man about the place in the gym of choice for Spike O’Sullivan, Stephen Ormond and Luke Keeler at the time, before coaching Lynn Harvey and becoming a recognizable second to Pascal Collins.
At that stage, it looked as if the now light-middleweight hopeful would be Pascal Collin’s apprentice, and a career in coaching lay ahead but there was one more turn in the very different journey.
Having built up some experience from hours and hours in the gym, O’Sullivan was afforded the chance to spar. Then stepping in to trade training leather with a pro, he took a beating but in true saddo fashion enjoyed it soo much he wanted more.
From that point on he set his heart on fighting and after a brief stint in the amateurs which included a National Elite Final appearance he makes his debut on the Summer Brawl card later this month.
“I don’t remember exactly how but when I was about 16 I just watched a Muhammad Ali DVD and fell in love with him,” he tells Irish-boxing.com as he begins his boxing love story.
“I had never watched boxing before that but I became obsessed with everything Muhammad Ali. Naturally, after that, I started watching boxing but I would always watch all the old black and white stuff then just grew more and more obsessed with the sport. I went to a local amateur gym in Meath when I was about 17 for a few but I wasn’t very good just enjoyed the training,” he adds before discussing how he became as familiar a fixture Celtic Warrior gym as the two brown leather couches that greet you when you reach the top of the steep stairs and enter through the door.
“I went to Paschal’s when I was 17. I used to go up on Saturday mornings just to do the boxercise class. Then on any of my school holidays, I would stay in my nans, which is just around the corner from the gym, and stay there all day, just watching all the sparring and trying to copy the likes of Spike and Steve Ormond while I hit the bags!
“I never actually thought about fighting I just loved the sport and being around it.”
O’Sullivan eventually progressed to holding pads for the fighters he once tried to copy and worked their corners alongside Collins on some very big fight nights.
“I was always in the gym giving pads to everyone from pros to novices and really enjoyed it,” he continues to explain.
“But then I started doing pads with a few pros who weren’t Paschal’s fighters and not to be disrespectful I realised their standard was very poor. I thought to myself I can do better than that!”
He then tried to outdo them in the sparring ring and it lead to an exchange that transformed his love of boxing into a love of fighting.
“My first day sparring a pro it was Niall O’Connor and I was never as nervous or got hit as hard in my life but I loved it! Ever since that I wanted to start fighting myself. Paschal told me to get some experience in the amateurs and in my first year, I got to the intermediate finals and have wanted to turn pro ever since then.”
His wish finally comes true on June 25 on the MHD promoted Summer Brawl card and he has prepared for his pro bow sparring a fighter he once tried to copy on on the bag, recent WBA ‘regular’ world title challenger Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan.
“I remember the first day I met Spike I was actually star struck. I’d seen him on telly a few times and now I’ve been sparring him in preparation for my debut and his world title fight, I never expected anything like that!”