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Not just the token girl – Siobhán O’Leary ready to take pro boxing first step

Siobhán O’Leary makes her professional debut this Saturday night in Dublin and is promising that she is no novelty act.

The Killarney super feather turns pro on the big ‘Celtic Clash 7’ card at Good Counsel GAA Club in Drimnagh and will bring a massive crowd from her home county and from Limerick where she is based.

The fifth Irish female to turn pro in the last three years, O’Leary feels like she is part of a big change within the sport.

Eddie Hearn, promoter of Irish superstar Katie Taylor, has been quoted hundreds of times saying ‘it’s not about men’s boxing or women’s boxing, boxing is boxing’ and O’Leary feels this as she makes her bow.

“Boxing is still very much a male-dominated sport – but we’re getting there,” she told Irish-Boxing.com

“There’s the Katie Taylor effect. I only started boxing in 2012 and it was really around then when all of Katie’s hard work came into focus.”

“I could see over the last few years in the amateurs a lot more girls coming into it and now the same in the pros.”

O’Leary is one of two female fighters featuring this Saturday along with Kilbarrack fly Lynn Harvey – an Irish boxing first – but this ‘milestone’ has hardly been mentioned in the build up.

It really is just boxing, and O’Leary has seen that throughout training camp with coach Eddie Hyland at SBG Tallaght.

The Kingdom puncher outlined how “I’m getting that respect from my team-mates as well, from Carl [McDonald], from Graham [McCormack], and all the guys that train here. I’m not just seen as the token girl.”

“They know that I can fight and they respect that. They respect the hard work I put in and the dedication to our craft.”

“Of course they slag me and I slag them back.”

Her first camp with Hyland, it is very much a learning process going in to fight number one.

“It’s been great,” exclaimed O’Leary.

“Obviously, it’s only the first camp so I’m still trying to get a routine in, but it’s going great,” she added before detailing what she has been working on in the gym.

“All the clichés! Setting your feet, letting the combinations go, setting traps and getting away from the get-in-get-out to the pros where it is get-in-hurt-them.”

“For me, though, it’s all about relaxing because I’m quite a tense fighter and Eddie’s done a lot of work with me around relaxing my shoulders down, I’m still learning but being able to fully relax was never something that was going to happen overnight.”

On Saturday, O’Leary will box Hungarian Klaudia Csazsar [1(1)-1(0)-1] who last month was beaten on points over six-rouds by top Italian lightweight prospect Sara Corazza.

The opposition is not a motivator for the Munster woman, who will be boxing without a headguard for the first time, but she admits that her supporters will be

“It’s irrelevant to me. I never focus on my opponent because I’ve no control of that, I’ve no control over what she does, the only thing I have control of is how I respond to what she does and that’s what I’m going to focus on.”

“I’ve sparred without headguards before a little bit so that won’t be a shock – the eight ounce gloves might be, although most likely for the other girl!”

“The reaction from Kerry and Limerick has just been phenomenal. It’s very humbling and I’m very grateful. I just hope to be able to give it back on fight night, I will give it back on fight night, I know I will.”

“It motivates me – I don’t need much motivation but the reaction has been so overwhelming at times that it has focused me and pushed me forward.”

O’Leary’s fight on Saturday will take place across four rounds but she hopes to progress within the sport. Csazsar is not the culmination but just the start for the Corpus Christi graduate.

“This really is just a first step,” she promised.

“I need to be realistic, I’m a bit of an older athlete but I’m in this to go as far as I can go.”

“I’m going to take it one fight at a time, I’m a person that lives in the now.”

“We’ll get through this one and then the next one is the next target and the next one is the next target. Right now, I’ll get through her and we’ll see.”

“Women’s boxing is a small pool”

Photo Credit: Ricardo Guglielminotti – The Fighting Irish (@ThefIrish)


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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