Tears to cheers – honest and bullish Sean Mari inspired by the pain of defeat

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The growing ‘see it, believe it, achieve it’ trend has the majority of athletes focusing on potential future positives in a bid to achieve success.

Monkstown’s Sean Mari took almost an opposite approach before and during his National Elite Championship success in the National Stadium on Friday last.

Rather than envision himself winning and the positive vibes that would bring, the 19-year-old pictured the pure pain of defeat.

Mari has first hand experience of what it was like to lose a National Elite decider and admits crying following his defeat to Regan Buckley in February.

The new light flyweight champion embraced those tears and used as them as main motivation going into his second successive Elite final.

“This was the ultimate goal,” he told Irish-Boxing.com after his defeat of Ricky Nesbitt.

“When I lost in February I went into the dressing room, I had a cry, I had a sulk and my coach James Doyle said to me ‘remember this feeling’. That stayed in my head the whole time I was training. Even during the fight it was in my head. I kept thinking ‘the feeling, the feeling’ – and when I heard 3-2 split decision my heart dropped I nearly shit myself.”

The teen had no real need to worry as he was confirmed the victor over Nesbitt of Holy Family Drogheda.

“I can’t really put it into words at the minute. I am over the moon,” he added before revealing recent Intermediate defeat to Nesibitt was another reverse he used as motivation.

“I have had a few setbacks over the last year with the last two Irish finals I have been in. I think the last one [v Nesbitt] gave me a little bit more of a kick up the arse to give it a that bit more of a push in the last few weeks.

“I needed that bit of a drive. I was a bit complacent going into that [Intermediate] final. I was still training hard, but I was a little bit complacent, not as disciplined as I should have been in the last two or three weeks. I wasn’t pushing myself extra extra hard to get over the line. It’s all stepping stones. Listen, he is a lovely bloke, but the end of the day there is no friends in this game. We are all looking for the same target.”

Mari, who won a title his coach John Paul Kinsella won in 20001 and successfully defended it against Paulie Hyland in 2002, is no longer an Olympic weight and thus won’t be considered for Toyko.

However, he is determined to reach Paris in 2024 – and wants to become a High Performance regular so he can improve he chances of achieving his Olympic dream.

“I said to you in February my goal is 2024, that’s the ultimate goal and I am one step closer to that now.”

“I know I am not getting funding. I know there is no point in the 49kg lads or even the 60kg lads expecting funding. I might not even be out in Abbotstown that much this year, now I hope I am, but I might not be. If I get the chance out there I’ll prove my worth and I’ll prove I am there to stay.”

Photo Credit: Tara Robins Mari


Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sport for a living for 19 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com