Introducing: Kickboxing convert Cathy McAleer

Cathy McAleer wants to win a fourth world title and a first in her first sporting love.

Ireland’s latest female pro has a storied combat history having won various titles in karate and kickboxing as well as challenging for a world bantamweight strap in K1.

The Belfast fighter now follows a pathway laid out by Monaghan favourite Christina McMahon – a fighter she sparred while trying to secure a licence – and leaves kickboxing for boxing, linking up with the legendary John Breen.

The 40-year-old, who will box in and around the bantamweight and super flyweight classes, will make her debut on the ‘Back in Belfast’ show at the Shorts Sports and Social club on Saturday November 17th and is planning on having the same impact in the sweet science as she did the previous codes she competed in.

“The goals are to take each bout at a time and see how I perform. Long term the goal is to add a fourth world title to my collection in a different discipline and one I love,” McAleer told 

The fighter, who has run karate schools since 2002, has come to realise she has a calling for boxing and, although she comes to the game late, she admits it was the first sport she ever dreamed of having success in.

That love as well as the desire for a new challenge were the catalysts behind her decision to take up boxing as she enters her forties.

Outlining how she has entered the sport, McAleer detailed how “I realised I had achieved all I could have in the kickboxing and K1 and I seen no progress for me. I like to be constantly challenged. I left for various reasons after my last fight in February in Stormont Hotel which I won with a second round knockout.”

“I took a few weeks out and was unsure if I was finished or not in martial arts. I spoke to a few friends and I traveled to Thailand and took some 121 boxing lessons with Paul Banaski. I realised that my love was boxing and in the majority of my fights I boxed ,” she added before stressing she never really felt there was a pathway to success for females in boxing before now. 

“As a kid I use to watch boxing and that was my dream to be a professional boxer but back in the day it was shunned upon if a woman wanted to fight or do a male sport so I never really got opportunity to.”

“I love martial arts but boxing was always my passion and dream . I won all my kickboxing fights with my boxing skills and now  I am being given the opportunity and I jumped at it with both hands,” added the fighter who is one of two female pros set to debut next month alongside Kerry lightweight Siobhan Ní Laoire.

Despite 121 boxing lessons in the beautiful surrounds but tough gyms of Thailand and proof she has fighting ability McAleer had to do some impressing before she assembled a team and secured a licence.

She proved she was BUI licence worthy with spars against two males and world level Irish puncher Christina McMahon but, before that, she had to win over veteran trainer Breen.

The coach behind a host of Belfast success stories initially wasn’t overly keen on taking on a female fighter, but one session on the pads with McAleer changed his mind.

“John took me for a few sessions and he felt I had ability to box. John told me I had ability and he’d like to work with me and I’ve been with John and Eamonn [Magee] since .

“It’s been brilliant and John is a true gentleman I couldn’t ask for a nicer coach or manager. John is “one in a million” and is very honest and drives me hard.”

“John told me he didn’t train females and then he felt how hard I could hit the pads and said I had great potential. John and Eamon have vast experience and I couldn’t be in a better place. Eamon was a top world level boxer and his knowledge,skills, experience and hardened approach. I really couldn’t ask for anymore.”

Having worked on K1 promotions and fought on kickboxing cards, McAleer already has a core fanbase. The talk is that she has done good tickets for her debut on the Luke Wilton undercard next month and according to the fighter herself Irish boxing will be introduced to another superfan come November 17th.

“My eldest sister Rosie, her nick name is “Ringside Rosie” as she gets so excited she’s nearly in the ring with me.  Many times over my career she’s been asked to take a seat as her nerves are flying.”

“Rosie and I used to sit in and watch the boxing together and she always said to me you are a boxer and believed one day I would be. Now here I am, four weeks out from my first bout.”

‘Ringside Rosie’ isn’t the only one that would be proud. McAleer reveals her late grandmother would also approve of her following a dream.

“I am totally excited and finally I am getting opportunity to do what I always dreamed of doing. My Granny McCartan always said “if it’s for you it won’t pass you” and she was very proud of what I achieved. She used to cut out all the newspaper cuttings before passing away only a few years ago but would been so pleased I made this decision.”


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Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years