By Dermot Bolger
Had Noel Murphy opted to stay amateur, there is no doubt that today, he would be among the country’s elite. At the rate he was progressing, one could even have envisaged him on the plane to Rio this summer.
As a 19 year old, he was a two time national champion (youth & intermediate) and just starting to mix it at senior level.
During a trip to New York with his club, he caught the eye of fellow Corkonian Kevin Crowley, who was establishing himself in the boxing business. Crowley put it to him that if he ever wished to give the pro game a go, he would love to give him the opportunity Stateside.
Having weighed up all his options, Murphy decided to throw his lot in with Crowley and hit the Big Apple. A daunting enough proposition for any young man but one has no regrets with when we spoke with him.
(1) As a very promising amateur, your star was on the rise when you decided to ditch the vest to go pro, what prompted the switch ?
Well I got the offer from my manager when I was 19, but I wanted to win the seniors first and go on to do big things in the amateur game. In the quarter final of my first seniors, I lost a close fight which me and a few others felt I won, after that I just lost interest in the amateur game. At every championships in the stadium there are questionable decisions which is very unfair.
(2) Amateur boxing in Ireland with it’s “elite performance” program is now world renowned and regularly brings home medals from the major tournaments. Were you tempted to stay in ranks with the World Championships and the Olympics as targets?
I was definitely tempted, but when you get to senior level boxing and don’t win outright, there isn’t a lot of activity in between championships, and as I said, one bad decision from a judge and your dreams are out the window for another year. I’m always following the elites in their competitions and love seeing them doing the business in international tournaments.
(3) What are your stand out memories from your amateur days ?
It has to be winning my Irish titles, I worked extremely hard to get them and there was a lot of years of going to Dublin and coming back empty handed so when I finally got one it was the best feeling in the world.
(4) Going pro is a big decision, what attracted you to do so in the USA ?
I came to New York for an amateur show with a team from Cork and my manager now, Kevin Crowley, asked did I want to come over and go pro, he felt I had it in me to do well. So when the offer was there my trainer Tom Power was always telling me to go even though I was nervous and that I’d regret not going. He was 100% correct and I’m thankful he kept pushing me to do it.
(5) Uprooting from Macroom to New York is a big adjustment, how has the transition been for you?
It’s been great so far, the start was very difficult, I was living on my own and I knew nobody so there was some tough times out here, it’s a lonely sport, but I have great teammates In the gym and a great trainer and manager so they helped me a lot. Now I absolutely love New York and I’m living with 3 girls so things could be a lot worse! Ha Ha .
(6) What’s involved in a typical days training for you?
So 3 mornings a week I do strength and conditioning, normally a Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings I go for a run, either 4 or 6 miles.
After that I come home to eat and rest for a bit before I head to the boxing gym in the evening for either sparring or just regular gym work, bags, pads shadow boxing etc!
Some weekends we might go sparring or running on a Saturday, and Sunday is a rest day.
(7) In your last fight, you stepped up to 6 rounds against a more experienced opponent, how did you find the step up in levels ?
I really enjoyed it, I worked very hard for this fight and I was in great shape, I felt the most relaxed I ever was in there. I liked the step up in opponent because I felt I got more of an opportunity to show my skills. Sometimes opponents with bad records can be messy and awkward and you don’t shine like you want to, so it was great to be stepped up and I got a lot of positive feedback from that fight. Hopefully the next opponent will be better again.
(8) Is there anything in the pipeline yet for your next outing ?
My manager Kevin is working on it, he is hoping the first week in June but nothing is confirmed yet, I’m still in the gym working hard anyway so if something pops up I’ll be ready.
(9) No doubt you’d like to box in Ireland if the opportunity arose ?
100%!! There is a new arena being built in Cork that holds up to 6000 people I think. I would love to go back and put on a show in Cork, I reckon it would do really well. I get amazing support from home so hopefully I’ll have a title by the time that presents itself and get to defend it against another Irish lad. Sell it out and have a real domestic dust up, I think that’s what we need to bring boxing back to Ireland.
(10) Have you set yourself any immediate goals say for the next 12 months ?
I want to stay active and move up the rankings quickly. My manager mentioned fighting for a North American title towards the end of 2016 so that’s sticking out in my mind, I would love to start collecting belts, I’m doing everything right at the moment so I just have to keep going.
(11) You gave yourself a bit of stick for missing out on Floyd Mayweather’s visit to your gym ?
Yeah I was sickened, it was very unlucky Ha Ha. One kid from the gym was there that day and did pads with his dad in front of Floyd, Floyd liked what he saw and invited him out to Vegas to train and now he is signed with TMT. It just goes to show that anything can happen in New York!
(12) New York historically has got behind crowd pleasing Irish fighters, how pleased have your Team been with your career to date ?
They are very happy, the support is building with every fight and I’m getting a big fan base behind me now which is brilliant. More importantly I’m always improving in the gym, my trainer is delighted with how I’m doing and we are really starting to click now. The difference from when I first arrived in New York to now has been phenomenal so the future is very bright!