Late Late Show priest Fr Pierre Pepper bringing white collar boxing to new levels
Offaly priest Father Pierre "Jalapeno" Pepper will leave the rectory for the boxing ring when taking part in a charity White Collar boxing event on March 14th in Banagher.
Father Pepper, 47, has caused quite a stir in recent months with his participation in the unique event and captured the public's imagination with an appearance on the Late Late Show as well BBC radio, and appropriately, The Catholic Herald.
The Wexford native, who is simultaneously taking part in a Strictly Come Dancing to raise funds for Offaly underage GAA, is certainly a man of the people and says he aims to take white collar boxing to "new literal levels".
“I’m finding it hard to find time to be a priest right now but everything else comes behind saying mass, visiting the sick, going to schools and taking part in committee meetings," the clergyman told Independent.ie.
"Both of them tie into each other with the footwork in the dancing and in the ring but I just hope I don’t get mixed up and end up flattening the girl I'm dancing with.”
Comparisons with the 'Dancing Priest' Father Liam Finnegan in Father Ted have been banded around but the priest was quick to note that he's "the genuine article" but his opponent Jared Madden quipped: “One thing they do they in common is that he died in action.”
The 6ft 3in right-hander weighs in at 17.5 stone and will have a distinct height and weight advantage over his opponent, 5ft 11in 14.5 stone "Artful Dodger" Madden, but the 34-year-old is not deterred.
Madden said: "I'm going to be dodging those prayers and psalms: He might be a man of the cloth but I know he’ll throw in the towel and turn the other cheek.”
Asked whether he needs some divine inspiration on Fight Night in Houghs pub on the Shannon Father Pepper said he has cut down on the altar wine in the build up to the fight but insists his Boss will be sitting on the fence.
Pepper, wholes entrance hymn on the night will be the gongs of the Angelus, said: “The Lord is impartial in this and even though he’s my Boss he’s still Jared’s father as well.
“Even though I walk into the Valley of Death, no evil will I fear, The Lord is with me. If I need God I’ll call him but I won’t need him that night."
The event is the brainchild of Ger Hough, who has acquired the services of former pro-boxer and Olympian Cathal O'Grady for the event, and hopes to raise significant funds for Irish Motor Neurone Disease, St Vincent de Paul and a host of other charities.
Hough was shocked when called by the Late Late Show, where they rubbed shoulders with Kodaline and drank 'fizzy water', and initially though the call was a hoax.
"I couldn’t repeat what I said to the lady because the poor woman was in shock. I didn’t believe her, I thought it was the tax man or something," Hough said.
"She convinced me it was real so I rang Father Pepper. He has connections everywhere so he called someone in RTE and confirmed that it was genuine."
Hough said the experience was a bit surreal, he added: "We got kitted out in our Sunday best and brushed shoulders with all the celebrities in the Green Room. We half expected Greek Gods with Togas eating grapes."
Father Pepper was quick to note that despite the media attention on himself that this event is about 30 men and women putting in ferocious work for great causes, some of which has included the parish priest engaging in a strict diet and personal training.
"I'm eating chicken and spinach four times a day. I met personal trainer Joe Quinn in a wake house of all places. Everyone was taking about the videos that we’ve been doing and he offered me his services.”
Pepper and Madden train every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday for two hours under the tutelage of Neil and Paul Buckley for the three-round clash but Pepper expects it to be over quickly.
The combatants have become embroiled in a 'video war' with Peppers 'Brotherhood' engaging in verbal warfare with Madden's 'Sisters of No Mercy' as the event gathers the momentum of a runaway train.
With over half of the 600 available tickets snapped up by punters already, a great night is promised with many sponsorship opportunities available for some truly worthwhile causes.