Irish-Aboriginal Shanell Dargan has the X-Factor

Dennis Hogan and Darragh Foley won’t be the only Irish fighters sporting the tricolour on the bumper No Limit Boxing card on this Saturday.

Shannell Daragan [1(0)-0-1] will also represent Ireland in battle on the eagerly anticipated TV card set for the Newcastle Entertainment Centre in New South Wales, Australia.

The Campbelltown Boxing fighter isn’t anywhere near as well known in boxing circles as, Hogan, the two-weight world title challenger and victim of one of Irish boxing’s biggest robberies. And she certainly doesn’t speak like ‘Super’ Foley, the big punching throwback with one of the best verbal games in the sport.

However, she has a unique movie-worthy tale that may one day make her known around the world and she represents Ireland, and particularly her Grandmother, with massive pride.

The Indigenous talent, who wears the Aboriginal and Irish colours on her fight gear, is a former X-Factor star, whose journey brought her to New York where she sang for John Legend. The 28-year-old then decided to take up boxing as a means of dealing with some traumas, which included a violent and toxic relationship and, as often happens, fell in love with the sport. Although, what is not so much of a common practice, she quickly found herself in the pro ring.

But, there’s more – Dargan’s debut, taken after just six amateur fights and at two weeks’ notice, is an Australian Fight of the Year contender. In fact, so entertaining was the four-round war, that the show promoter, George Rose, and the chief sponsor enhanced each fighter’s purse by five thousand Australian dollars by way of reward.

“I only had two and a half weeks prep for that fight and It wasn’t in the game plan to fight like that,” she tells Irish-boxing.com when discussing the anything but bore draw with Ashleigh Sims.

“But to be honest that’s the way I like to fight. I don’t hold anything back. I think I am an entertaining fighter to watch. I’m still very new to the sport with only six amateur fights, so I’m not as technical as others but I love to just go in there and give it my all.”

That fighting Irish spirit comes from her Grandmother, a county Armagh woman who raised her and whom she holds in the highest of regard.

“I was raised by my Grandmother who is Irish, her family are from Armagh,” she explains.

“I’m born in Australia but still feel a deep connection to Ireland as my Grandmother is the strongest woman I know. She has given me the strength and the drive to be the best I can be. I am also Aboriginal which I’m very proud of but I always represent both cultures. Especially for my Nan because she has sacrificed so much for me.”

Dargan also has a connection to Ireland via her coach Aarron Bailie, whose mother she called Gran.

“I have an amazing coach Aaron Bailie who was a previous Irish champ. So wearing the Irish flag lets me represent him too and his beautiful late mother Cathleen Bailie who just recently passed away, who I loved dearly. I called her Gran.”

That all-action Sims battle wasn’t the first time Dargan, who has since put a win on her record, beating Jaala Tomat in Sydney, performed under the lights.

The Campbelltown fighter was an Australian X-Factor contestant in 2014. Singing remains a big part of her life but a new passion has moved to number 1.

“Singing was my first love. I still love to sing but boxing has taken over my life,” she adds before explaining how boxing took over.

“I went through some hardships which included being in a domestic violence relationship. I found boxing to help me both mentally and physically and just fell in love with it.”

Which stage is scarier to perform on?

“Boxing is, definitely,” Dargan says.

“It’s more nerve-racking, knowing you’re going in there and you can get seriously hurt and especially fighting on national TV.”

Being late to the game and boasting only the shortest of amateur careers, Dargan doesn’t come to the table with the same kind of pedigree as the more recent wave of new women pros. However, she has proven herself an odds-defying fighter and is daring to dream.

“I would love to become a world champion, I know that’s a big thing to want but I believe if you want something so bad and work hard you can achieve anything you put your mind to.”

What about an Irish title?

“That would be amazing to fight for one! Definitely, something I would love to do. But I know there are many great Irish female fighters there.”

For now, the focus is on getting one of three potential Irish wins by defeating Ayisha Abied live on Fox Sports come October 8th.

“It’s an absolute privilege to be on the same card as those two legends! Darragh is one of my favourite fighters. I can’t wait to cheer them both on. and yep we will be going three from three!.”

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