BERNARD DUNNE woke up this morning with a weight off his shoulders and more time on his well-worn hands.
The former WBA Super Bantamweight world champion last night hung up his gloves at the age of 30, calling time on the sport he took up as a five-year-old and eventually made him a national icon.
Five years to the day when he marked his return to Ireland from the US by defeating Jim Betts at the National Stadium in Dublin, the Neilstown native is now looking forward to a new life in broadcasting, youth outreach, a book and coaching.
Dunne can reflect on a career that helped to bring the glamour back into Irish boxing.
“I’ve had a lot of thoughts and reflections since (the defeat to Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym in September),” he explained last night.
“Boxing has been my life for 25 years and it’s time for a change now. The easy decision would have been for me to jump back in the ring but I’ve always been honest in my career and I’m being honest to my family and supporters in making this decision.
“I’ve had a great relationship with RTÉ over the past five years and that will continue, I’m also going to start a campaign talking to kids about fulfilling their dreams and living healthy lifestyles. I’ll get around to writing a book at some stage too to tell my story.”
Dunne says the manner of the defeat to Kratingdaenggym was not the primary factor in his decision, rather he had grown weary of the routine and didn’t want to be seen going through the motions.
“My health was never an issue, I just didn’t want to me one of those boxers who went on until they are 38,” he said. “I regret nothing. I loved my career, I love boxing. It would have been easy to go on, but it could have become a drag to get into the gym and I didn’t want to get that way.
“I make no excuses for the Poonsawat fight, I was in great shape. I felt that I was starting to question myself over the past four months about what I wanted to do and when you do that, you realise there’s more to life.
“I felt 120% going into the fight against Poonsawat. When you’re beaten by a better man you’re beaten by a better man. You have to be honest.”
Dunne’s long term coach Harry Hawkins said he wasn’t overly disappointed by the decision.
“I’d be disappointed if he was hurt or injured,” he said.
“But winning the world title was a great night for us all. The two defeats were disappointing but you accept that in boxing, that’s part and parcel of the game. The success of boxing in Ireland at this point in time is down to Bernard Dunne.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved