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As he prepares for a shot at the IBF world super-featherweight title in Philadelphia next weekend, ‘King Kong’ Carroll talks to Kevin Byrne about his career to date and hopes for the future. eir sport 1, Sun, March 10th 8.30pm
In the latest instalment of eir sport's acclaimed series on Irish boxing, ‘King Kong’ Carroll, one of Ireland’s brightest prospects, talks about life both inside and outside the ring.
Originally from Finglas, Carroll (real name Jonathan Beresford) is an unusual character for an elite sportsman. Rarely given to cliché, he readily admits that he doesn’t sleep and eat boxing 24 hours a day as many in his position would profess to do. “I’m not even a huge fan,” he reveals. “I watch the big fights but that’s about it.”
He prefers to retreat into family life once training is over, to be with his partner and child. It’s one of the advantages, he says, of not using his real name as he will be able to put it all well and truly behind him when his career is finally over. His life has been tinged with tragedy – he lost his mother and uncle within a year of each other in his mid-teens – which could go a long way to explaining why he has his feet firmly on the ground. He’s a straight talker and it’s refreshing to listen to him.
Brought up in Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath, Carroll was boxing from a young age – the culture clash of the move from Finglas meant he was never too far from a fight with his new schoolmates. His father is a highly-rated coach and Carroll admits that boxing was more his dream than anything else. He remembers plenty of early morning training sessions before school in all weathers. He just went with it to please his father as many kids do.
“My father was very hard on me and I’ve heard he is hard on a lot of his boxers, but you need serious discipline in this sport in order to succeed,” he says. “He told me that he didn’t want me to go into boxing unless I was going to be the best that I could be.”
All that hard graft paid off as now, with 15 wins and a draw from 16 fights a little more than six years on from his professional debut, the 26-year-old is one fight away from becoming a world champion. That fight will see him take on reigning champion Tevin Farmer for the IBF Super-Featherweight crown in Philadelphia next weekend.
Carroll is humble but has total belief in his own ability, a trait that many would argue is a pre-requisite for a top sportsman. He knows what he has to do to succeed and is determined to make a big splash in America next weekend. He feels that the omens are good and the timing is right - it will be St Patrick's Weekend after all!
A long-time Rocky fan, he can't wait to fight in Philadelphia. His big dream now, he says with a smile, is to climb those famous steps in front of City Hall with his newly-acquired world championship belt the morning after the fight. We wish him all the best.
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