Saturday 20 January 2018

The star: Bernard Dunne

HE got back up off the canvas twice in round five when winning that epic WBA world super-bantamweight title off Panama's Ricardo Cordoba in March 2009, but Bernard Dunne faces an utterly unknown opponent on Monday.

When the former European and World champion retired from boxing last February, running a marathon definitely wasn't on his immediate 'to do' list.

Playing "lots of soccer" has helped keep the 30-year-old in decent shape since, but up to three months ago, running 26 miles still wasn't remotely on his agenda.

The Neilstown fighter raised almost €100,000 with his own celebrity soccer classic last year, yet won't even have a big fundraising carrot to lure him towards the finish line on his Bank Holiday Monday marathon debut.

"I'm running my own big charity event again next May, so I didn't want to be asking people for support a second time," he explains.

It was on his 'Bernard Dunne Charities' Facebook page, as recently as September 9, that he announced: "Confirmed -- I'm doing the Dublin Marathon. God knows why, but I am!"


So, how did his belated entry come about?

"A friend of mine, David Geoghegan, asked me to help him get fit and after about three weeks working with him, he convinced me to run the Dublin Marathon with him," Dunne explains.

"Then three weeks later he decides he isn't running it, but I'm already committed to the bleedin' thing by then and couldn't back out!"

Fortunately another mate, Neville Murphy, was already training for Dublin and, having already completed the Belfast Marathon, has been able to give his famous training partner some good advice.

"I was able to do the shorter runs on my own, but myself and Nev did the longer ones together," Dunne explains. "Training with someone else really helped me and we pushed each other along."

Contrary to those outdated 'Rocky' images, champion boxers do little distance running in their training.

"And we certainly don't do it at five in the morning either," Dunne quips.

"We've done some good times in training, but everyone says it's completely different on the day, so I'm definitely not predicting any finishing time. All I know is if I have to walk across that finish line, I will."

Irish Independent

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