ATHY boxer Eric Donovan had to spend months away from his family but it was worthwhile when his team Astana Arlans Kazakhstan won the World Series of Boxing (WSB) last week.
The St Michael’s fighter lost his bout but his team won a dramatic final 6-5 after the tie-breaker went down to the last round.
Donovan initially felt down with his own display having been beaten by Vyacheslav Kyslytsyn but it wasn’t long before he put personal disappointment behind him to enjoy the overall team success.
“That lifted my spirits and I forgot about losing my fight. I sacrificed so much to come out here and spent so much time away from my family, I just forgot about my loss and thought that I am part of a team who just won the World Series of Boxing and it was great,” he said.
Had Donovan won his fight, it would have clinched the title for his team but following that loss, there was two more defeats which meant a tie-breaker to decide the final. For the former Irish national champion, getting a bout in the final was a reward in itself.
“I didn’t think I was going to get the call for the final because there are plenty of Kazakhstan boxers on the team and with Kazakhstan winning the bid to host the final of the WSB I expected them to pick their own boxers. It’s a credit to them though, they rewarded me for all the hard work and effort I had put in. I did do my best on every single day, every sparring session, in every single way I did what was asked of me and even more sometimes. They rewarded me with the shot and I’m grateful for that. I trained very, very hard, I did the best I could and I left everything in the ring so I have no real regrets,” he said.
It’s been an experience that Donovan will never forget but after so long away from his family he is now just looking forward to spending some time at home.
“Very quickly I settled into life over here. The Kazakhstan people are amazing and they made my life very easy. It’s been the longest time I’ve spent away from home though. I’ve never had the chance to feel nostalgic before but I certainly felt it this time. I’ve two sons at home and one of them has just turned one a couple of weeks and has started to walk. I’d only seen that on Skype. I hadn’t seen it in the flesh. In one way, I’m glad that I can tell them in years to come that I was out in Kazakhstan in Middle Asia winning the World Series of Boxing with our teams. It’s great to be able to tell them that. If I could sum up the whole experience, it was definitely a rollercoaster. I’ve some very fond memories. I learned a new culture and I also started to learn the language. I’m going to try keep the ball rolling with the Russian when I get home because it would be a great asset to have because I want to go into coaching after my boxing career. I believe that all the former Soviet Union countries are the greatest boxing countries in the world and they all speak Russian. If I can pick up the phone and organise a trip to one of those countries that would be a success to me.”
Although the joy of the winning the WSB is something that Donovan will relish for a long time, his aim has always been to reach an Olympic Games and that is the target to this day, with one eye still on Rio 2016.
“Everything I am doing now is only a process towards my ultimate goal and my ultimate goal is the Olympic Games. I tried for Athens but I was very, very young. I tried for Beijing and to be quite frank I didn’t try hard enough. It was my own fault but you live and you learn. Right now, I am in a good place mentally and a good place in my lifestyle. I’ve learned so much over the years and everything I do until the qualifiers for the Rio games is going to be geared towards that. I’ll have no regrets if I can keep going and doing my best. When the time comes, if I qualify I qualify and if I don’t I’ll have no regrets. I’ve a good solid foundation, I’ve lots of notes, I learned a lot in Kazakhstan and I’m ready to work hard,” he said.