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Tokyo Tat at the ready for classy James McGivern

So confident and determined is James McGivern of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics that he is considering getting the almost obligatory Olympic rings tattoo already. 

The St George’s fighter took a step toward Tokyo with victory in the 63kg National Elite Championship final on Saturday night.

The tournament victory, which the Commonwealth Games bronze medallist was a bigger ask than winning an international competition, puts him in pole position to represent Ireland at the European Games in Minsk this summer.

Do well on the continent and McGivern will, if current whispers are to be believed, book his tickets to the Far East and the fighter can’t see any other outcome.

The Belfast light welter is adamant he will achieve his childhood dream and told that “I have said it from the start, even four years ago after Rio, I am coming.”

“I was going to go to the camera and put the Olympic rings on it. I am ready. I was near getting the Olympic rings on my back right now. I started this game at six years of age in my bedroom watching Paddy Barnes and all them boys and I said ‘I am going to that’.”

21-year-old McGivern is fully-committed to the cause and noted how “I played football, Gaelic, hurling, the whole lot and this is the only one I am good at and I am going for it.”

“I left my job to make the Olympics and thank God for my sponsors they allow me to train full time.”

“There is no point in just winning All-Irelands, Euros or Worlds the Olympics is where it’s at and that is where I am going.”

McGivern’s victory over George Bates of St Marys in the 63kg final was his first All-Ireland win at senior level. However, rather than see it as the culmination of a life time’s work the Belfast man claims it’s just the start of his Olympic journey.  

“I have won the important one with the Olympics next year. Every Irish title is important and I think that is my fourteenth and my first Senior one, but this year it’s massive,” he outlined.

“This is just the start now. The Commonwealth Games is obviously a massive event but this is much bigger.”

“I said it before to get out Ireland this year is probably harder than winning any of the European competitions this year. I think I have had the most weigh-ins and the most fights. I beat two defending Irish champions [Bates and Wayne Kelly] in the process so it wasn’t an easy ride.”

Reflecting on the cagey fight, one of 11 new champions on Saturday night was aware it wasn’t the most entertaining affair, but claims he was always well aware that was going to be the case.

McGivern described how “George is an unbelievable boxer, but I knew from the start it was going to be cagey. The referee was saying ‘one of you will have to throw a punch’. I knew it was going to be a game of chess.”

“I was just waiting on the back hand that’s what it is when it’s orthodox versus southpaw and two boxers.

“It was a case of maybe landing two convincing punches per round. In the first round I landed two hooks and it’s horrible to say I thought to myself ‘that’s won me the round’. You can’t risk throwing lots of shot against a counter puncher, it was the same for him.”

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


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Jonny Stapleton contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 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: