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Tommy McCarthy from Mayfield boxing club. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Tommy McCarthy from Mayfield boxing club. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
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Thinking outside the box and taking it to the boxing ring

Mayfield man Tommy McCarthy is a fast-rising star on the boxing circuit.

With six county titles, seven Munster titles and an outstanding six All-Irelands under his belt, the 19-year old is soon set to represent Ireland in his first senior cap for the country.

The ambitious young athlete has even set his sights on the 2020 Olympics, turning down two-pro contracts in order to pursue his dream.

But despite this, he struggled with school as he found the education system didn’t always engage his interests.

“School wasn’t really my thing,” he tells the Evening Echo.

“I finished the Leaving Cert but I didn’t do too well in it. I was focused on sports, that was my way of learning. It wasn’t my thing,” he added.

Proving that hard work, dedication and passion are all-important factors in success, Tommy turned his focus instead on his rising sporting career instead of going on to college, a training course or into the workforce. 

Dedicating himself to his tough training schedule, he has since been named Cork Boxer of the Year, Northside Boxer of the Month and Cork Champion of Champions.

All of his hard work and dedication paid off when Tommy was chosen to represent Ireland as part of the Senior boxing team in an upcoming competition in Poland on September 20. 

“I train six days a week. Two times or three times a day. Sometimes it will be two times a day, sometimes three.Today, I’m after my second session and I just finished a five-mile run. It’s tough going.” 

Tommy McCarthy with Johnny O'Donovan, gym instructor at Mayfield sports complex. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Tommy McCarthy with Johnny O'Donovan, gym instructor at Mayfield sports complex. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
You learn from every fight in a boxing ring, he adds.

“With boxing, you learn something new every day with boxing. I’m doing it for the last nine years and I’m still learning and I’m going to be doing it for the next 20 years of my life and I’m still going to be learning.” 

“You’re not going to be perfect, you’re obviously going to have things to work on. So that’s the way I see it, I enjoy working and learning from the boxing, from the sports point of view but with school, it just (wouldn’t) click into my head really.” 

When he’s not fighting it out in the ring, Tommy loves working towards his other passion- acting.

He always enjoyed drama growing up, taking part in school plays here and there as a student, but he didn’t have any professional experience, he explains.

A talented self-taught musician, Tommy initially posted videos of him singing on Facebook with great success as they started going viral.

“Since they were going viral, I started putting up funny videos taking off my mam. I’d a long fringe and I was tying it up in a ponytail and one-half of the video would be me pretending to be my mam and the other half then would be my reaction and that started going viral as well.”

“She’d be freaking,” he laughs. “She knows I’m a messer.” 

Tommy didn’t have professional acting experience so to speak but he decided to try his luck and audition for Cork’s smash hit the Young Offenders.

He thought he had missed out starring in the film when he had to turn down a leading role due to a boxing commitment, he explains.

“Two days after my fight I was regretting it and I got a phone call saying ‘There’s still a part in the film if you’d like to come into town and meet the director?’ I was only with him for five minutes and he said yeah straight away, he liked me. So, that’s what it was.” 

“The film went so big then, with the series they rang me back again and asked if I’d come back.” 

“It's great experience. I like do everything that includes sports and sometimes a bit of fun, just that keeps my mind occupied. It was a good experience, brilliant experience. I’m going to keep the acting going. Keeps me off the streets, both the sport and the acting,” he jokes.

When it comes to learning, follow your passion and don’t worry if you’re not following a conventional path, Tommy advises.

“My advice is to actually finish out school and get a good leaving cert because you need a good leaving cert but still, if you’re not doing too good in school, just never give up. There’s obviously something that you’re going to be good at. Even if it’s not sports, even if it's art or poems. We’re given a strength I think and that strength, that’s what you’re going to like and that’s what you’re going to enjoy. If you enjoy that, just keep doing it. If school isn’t your thing and you feel like writing poems then so be it. Just do something that you like, something that clicks in your mind.”