Siobhan O’Leary out to show she is not a “token woman” as title fights near


Siobhán O’Leary [1(1)-0] is in line for a TV slot at the end of the month and the Kerry super featherweight wants to jump on the opportunity and leave people in no doubt.

The Killarney-born Limerick-based puncher features on the Assassin Promotions and Boxing Ireland Promotions ‘Clash of the Titans’ card at the National Stadium in Dublin on Saturday March 30th and, with TG4 eager to show women’s boxing, O’Leary looks set to feature alongside light welter debutant Katelynn Phelan.

A watching audience of hundreds of thousands is something which is impossible to turn down but O’Leary could be described as slightly wary ahead of the fight.

The popular 36-year-old is a big, perhaps the biggest, advocate for the rising role of women within Irish professional boxing but doesn’t want things handed to her.

O’Leary explained to Irish-Boxing.com how “[TV coverage] is going to be something that helps with the intensity of preparations but I’m not a token woman, the token female.”

“I’m here to take part and train and be as successful as my male counterparts if not more. That’s the trajectory that I’m on and that’s the trajectory that Stephen and Leonard [Sharpe and Gunning, managers] have me on and I trust that.”

“My job is to get in there, box, and win, and that is what I’m going to do – and keep knocking people out!”

The Kingdom power puncher did score a huge knockout – probably the biggest ever from an Irish female fighter – in her professional debut back in November.

That fight with Klaudia Csaszar was set for four rounds and so will her bout versus a to-be-confirmed foe on March 30th but the Team TNT boxer is closer to big title bouts than this would suggest.

Coming into 2019, the Boxing Union of Ireland formalised their rules and requirements for women’s Celtic and Irish titles, with the former to be contested over six two-minute rounds and the latter over eight two-minutes – European and World titles are ten two-minute rounds.

With that in mind, a Celtic title fight looks to be in her near-immediate grasp but O’Leary puncher is not getting ahead of herself.

“Listen, I could spar ten rounds now,” she laughs, “and ten threes at that.”

“The rounds are irrelevant, it’s the preparation and the mental part of it that’s key.”

“But it’s great that the BUI are recognising female boxing and opening the door for more females to participate. That’s the issue, participation for females in boxing because it’s traditionally been seen as a male sport and I think it’s good to have females at the fore.”

“Katie Taylor is there, Christina McMahon is after coming back, it’s great, it’s good to have these role models – and for exposure. Being up there for myself and being present on this show is important, it’s important for women and girls to see that.”

The Boxing Ireland fighter is currently deep in preparations with Eddie Hyland at SBG Tallaght ahead of a big night for the gym.

Jake Hanney will take on Victor Rabei in the chief support, Garryowen light middleweight Graham McCormack boxes Jade Karam, and Irish super bantamweight champion Carl McDonald will also feature.

Former Intermediate champion O’Leary is loving the atmosphere and outlines how “success breeds success and, for me, we have one of the best teams around.”

“We’ve super talent on the team, one of the best Irish coaches around, and being part of a team in the gym with all the lads is really excellent. Each and every one of them has brought me on and they continue to do so.”

“I can’t wait for it now, I can’t wait to get back in there, I can’t wait to progress.”

Photo Credit: Ricard 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