Callum Walsh could have played county but for Freddie Roach.
Walsh was a dual star of a different kind when he first moved to California, mixing up going to the famous Wild Card boxing gym with taking to the less renowned Cloverfield, the home of the LA Cougars GAA club.
The ‘fastest rising prospect in world boxing’ was playing Gaelic right up until he defeated the then undefeated Luis Garcia in his third fight, a stoppage win that was broadcast live on UFC Fight Pass.
In fact, the Tom Loeffler guided prospect, played a match less than 24 hours after he had his hand raised after the Hollywood Fight Night main event.
However, his budding Stateside GAA career ended quite early. It turns out Hall of Fame coach Roach’s love of Ireland doesn’t extend to the National Sport. Once the man who has guided the likes of Gennady Golovkin to world title success saw footage of a match he ordered the 23-year-old southpaw to retire.
“I was actually playing Gaelic football for a while for the LA Cougars,” he explained to SportsJoe. When I turned pro I was playing a few games every now and again, but when I explained to Freddie Roach what it was he was like ‘you can’t be playing that anymore, running around a field bumping into fellows’.
“I had showed him a few videos and he said I had to leave off the Gaelic football. I think it was after my third fight, I fought on the Friday and played Gaelic on the Saturday.”
As a result, the only Cork jersey being worn by a Wild Card gym member will be the one the Cobh native gave to Roach.
Reflecting on his on-field career Walsh added: “Play me wherever, you can just lump me wherever and I’ll be alright, there was a few Americans on the team too, so you were just all thrown in and you had to figure it out.”
The basketball court was where Walsh was last seen, as he got the big screen treatment at the New York Knicks game during what is a massive fight week for him.
Walsh makes his New York debut at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in a testing fight on Thursday. The ten-round main event will be broadcast globally on UFC FIGHT PASS, which is also making its Garden debut for boxing.
Ranked #16 by the WBC, Walsh returns following a fourth-round stoppage of veteran Juan Jose Velasco and will make the second defence of his WBC US Silver light middleweight title against Ismael Villarreal from the Bronx.