Tuesday 20 February 2018

Boxing clever - Karl Henry gets inspiration from Bernard Dunne

Karl Henry goes head-to-head with his friend and inspiration, boxer Bernard Dunne

Roll with the punches: Karl Henry interviews Bernard Dunne
Roll with the punches: Karl Henry interviews Bernard Dunne

There are few things more impressive than the dedication, commitment, motivation and hard work of the professional athlete. I have been lucky enough to see many of Ireland's professional athletes train and I am always blown away by their fitness levels and ability. I have also been lucky enough to get to work with Bernard Dunne, and he remains a good friend. I thought it would be interesting to pick his brains on his life as a professional athlete.

What does being healthy mean to you?

Healthy to me means feeling good in and about yourself.

What's your favourite type of training?

Running is the training that I enjoy most. I like to run alone. In fairness, I do all my training alone, but when I run I get to just let go of any thoughts and enjoy being outside without distraction.

Who is your sporting idol?

Growing up I loved to watch Sugar Ray Leonard boxing, and tried my best to be like him. I was very fortunate that I ended up getting to work with the man when I lived in Los Angeles.

What do you miss most about being in the ring?

That moment when you are just about to enter the ring and you know what is about to happen. That feeling of anticipation and excitement is just incredible. Those moments of knowing you are about to go one-on-one with another boxer and test yourself technically, physically and mentally are what I thrived on.

What does a normal day, in terms of training and food, look like for a professional boxer?

I would have trained two to three times a day and, depending on the load that day, my food intake would vary.

On the days where I trained three times, I would lift at 7am, go running at 1.30pm and start boxing at 6pm. In between all that I was eating and resting.

How did you get into boxing in the first place?

I come from a boxing family. My dad boxed in the 1976 Olympics and my two older brothers boxed, so I was exposed to the sport from a very young age.

What's your favourite treat meal?

I really am not one for treats. Maybe if I have tea, which I do a lot, I might have a jam tart but, apart from that, I'm not really a sweet person.

Sports psychology has become crucial in every sport and I know you do some work in this area. What tips would you give to someone to help improve their own mental preparation and performance?

Your preparation is key to getting the best out of yourself. I go back to those moments I spoke about earlier when I was getting ready to walk into the ring and the excitement and anticipation that would be bursting from me.

I was supremely confident in myself at those moments as I knew that my prep for my fights had been top-notch and I had done all that I could do. And knowing that, now all I had to do was go and enjoy the sport that I had been doing since I was six.

What advice would you give to aspiring boxers in Ireland?

Don't cut corners in training and listen as much as you can to everyone as you never know when you will pick up little golden nuggets of information that will help you develop.

What do you think is the best way to keep kids active?

I think more could be done. I am very much a believer that we should be teaching kids more about life habits and life in general rather than being so focused on academic education in primary school.

Tell us about your new show 'Mythological Heroes'.

It's all about Irish mythology. I have six episodes and they are about stories that I would have grown up reading. It came from an idea I had while reading to my kids. I noticed they had no books about Irish superheroes so I decided to rectify that and bring these stories back to life on TV. It is a mixture of animation and drama. It is aimed at young people but I think most people will enjoy watching them.

Bernard Dunne's 'Mythological Heroes' starts November 3 at 5pm on RTE2

Irish Independent

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