Martin Wall answers the call


One of the Irish boxing stories of the year will continue in Drimnagh on Saturday November 24th.

Here, on the massive ‘Celtic Clash 7′ card at Good Counsel GAA Club, Martin Wall will have his second pro fight. A former top amateur and all-Ireland champion, the Crumlin welterweight stepped away from the sport somewhat in recent years to become a qualified account but has been lured back and is already making a splash.

A boxing fanatic, the 25-year-old has turned pro and, with a stable job and an education, is looking to have an impact in the sport in Ireland. Unlike most, Wall’s mission isn’t world titles or millions – he’s here for a good time and to shake up a scene populated by many of his old amateur conquests.

Wall explains that “I’ve finished my exams so, technically, I’m a qualified chartered accountant. I’m only 25 and if I don’t do it now, I’m never going to do it. It’s looking at lads that I’ve boxed making it in the game. Lads I’ve beaten racking up records and I’m sitting thinking ‘why not me?’ I’ve still been in the gym training, in the club hitting the bag, and I’m still relatively fit, so I thought ‘why not do it now?'”

“It’s like a drug for me, boxing, it pulls me back in. Every couple of months I say ‘nope, I’m packing it in’ and then all of a sudden I’m watching fights, staying up late watching re-runs, the Gatti-Ward trilogy, Corrales-Castillo, Froch-Taylor Round 12, thinking ‘I’d love to be involved in fights like that’. It excites me. I think a lot of lads are misled, thinking they’ll make a load of money, you won’t. It’s a tough game and you have to be smart about it. I can still make money from my job while enjoying the sport that I love.”

The articulate Dub is the poster boy for the benefits of boxing. A much-maligned sport, Wall is one of its biggest champions and he described how “boxing paid for me to go to college, I got a sports scholarship, it paid my fees for my undergrad and then it paid the €10,000 for my masters. Boxing has given me things that nothing else could have ever given to me. Now I’m looking to give back, to give back to the fans who love Irish boxing.”

Wall debuted last month and instantly began fulfilling his promises of entertainment with a thrilling second round victory over Hungarian Zoltan Lepsenyi. The red mist descended that night in Tallaght and he recalls how ”looking back on my debut, it is still all a bit of a blur to be honest but it was a great experience to finally get in there and get going. I had just avoided one big right hand and he caught me with a left to the body and, to be honest, when that landed, I said ‘that’s it, let’s go’. I wanted four rounds and was ready for four but, when he landed that shot, the fight in me took over. It’s harder than you think to go back to the basics, it could be a boxer thing or a man thing, but you want a scrap.”

Invigorated by his return to the ring, Wall was straight into training for a November 24th date outlining how “the bug has truly bitten me again. I got to take the day after [the debut] off and have a pizza and two beers, but I was back out running on the Monday and in the gym that week. It’s become my routine now so I feel lost just sitting at home not training. Bad habits with eating and training are easy to fall back into.”

The DIT graduate is keen to progress quickly in his career and noted how “I’ve spent the last couple of years
focusing on my academic career and I’ve managed to conquer that so now it’s time to see how far I can go with this boxing game. I’m not looking to slowcoach things. I would love to blitz to 10 fights. I am not here to change my life, I just love the game and I want to be part of it.”

“We’re at a prime time now. Irish boxing is booming, especially around my weight – but all the lads are out to fight journeymen, let’s see if they’ll want to fight me after I’ve had one or two. There’s so many lads I’ve been in with, so many lads that I’ve beaten, and I think I can do a job on them in the pros.”

“Lads are worried about protecting their ‘0’ [unbeaten record]. There’s a couple of lads in double-digits who have fought nobody of note. For me, there’s no substance to that, you’re not going to look back at ten or twenty years. It’s about who did you beat? Who did you fight? and who do the fans remember you fighting? It’s a hunger, I want to be involved in fights that people will remember me – and hopefully keep a pretty face!”

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie