“It’s been a very emotional’ – Martin Keenan reacts to National Elite win

An emotional Martin Keenan claimed the spirit of his late mother helped him pick up a second National Elite title at the National Stadium on Saturday gone.

The Limerick super heavyweight beat Thomas Maughan at +92kg to become a two-time champion and the main Irish big man at the start of a fresh Olympic cycle.

Speaking after the fight Keenan revealed the memory of his mother, who unfortunately passed from cancer, and his brother, who died from suicide, helped him through a tough final and indeed a competitive tournament.

“It was a very emotional fight for me because my mother and my brother should be here by right, my mother died of cancer in 2019 and my brother committed suicide in 2020, so it’s been a very emotional three weeks. It was very very tough.

“They are here in spirit, my mother is always with me, my mother was my best friend, she was always my number one supporter and unfortunately, she’s gone.

“My mother’s spirit helped me in the first fight against Kenny Okungbowa, he is a tough tough fight for anyone and my mother helped me through that, and in the final, I really needed that help from her again. It was a final and Thomas Maughan is a good fighter and thankfully I got the nod in the end.

The win allows the Rathkeale big man to lay claim to being #1 in a division previously dominated by the now-retired Dean ‘Breakfast’ Gardiner.

Keenan certainly wants the chance to fill the Tipp fighters International books and is hoping to be selected for the World Championships which are set to take place in Belgarde later this month.

“Next thing now is to go up to the High Performance and hopefully get picked for the World Championships. It’s whatever the lads think themselves up there in Dublin but I think I deserve to go,” he says before discussing his tactics for the fight with Maughan who had surprised High-Performance favourite Gytis Lisinskas in the semi-final.

“The tactic was to take away his jab but that wasn’t easy to do, he was well able to use it. Thankfully I had enough heart to get it through it. In the end, I landed the cleaner shots, and thats what won me the fight. “

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