"I want my kids to be able to say 'my daddy was champion of the world'" - Gary O'Sullivan chasing glory and security 4 years ago

"I want my kids to be able to say 'my daddy was champion of the world'" - Gary O'Sullivan chasing glory and security

“I really want to win this fight,” Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan tells me as his teammate Niall Kennedy hits pads with Paschal Collins in the ring behind us.

“I really want to win. This is the hardest I’ve ever trained for a fight, and I know a lot of fighters say that, but I have never put in more effort heading into a fight than I have for this camp."


At 33, O'Sullivan has no reason to lie.

He's been training under Collins at the Celtic Warriors Gym in Corduff, Co. Dublin, since he was 11-years-old, and with a family of four living in Togher, Co. Cork, he knows he only has a few years left in his career to secure his family's future.

"If I could buy four houses, mortgage free, I'd go into the grave right now a happy man," he adds.

"If I can become a world champion, I can become a millionaire."


Boxers always dream of becoming world champions, it's generally their primary objective from the moment they first lace up their gloves, but age and experience teaches nearly all fighters that fallibility is always only one punch, one round or one fight away.

Traveling up and down the M7 and M8 from Cork to Dublin every week, O'Sullivan has had a lot of time to ponder upon his future.

He's had time to sit and reflect on his journey as well as where he's going next and how he plans to get there.


His first stop on the road to prosperity will be a trip to Montreal this weekend where he will fight Antoine Douglas for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental Middleweight Title on the undercard of Billy Joe Saunders world title bout with David Lemieux.

O'Sullivan will be hoping to fight the winner of the Saunders-Lemieux fight, or potentially the winner of next year's Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez rematch, should he advance past Douglas [22-1] on Saturday.

They're the money fights, according to the Corkonian, and while his primary goal at this stage of his career is to provide for his family and their long term future, he also wants to be able give his children something to talk about long after he hangs up his gloves.

"I travel a lot up and down between Cork and Dublin," adds the Mahon raised Middleweight.


"I drive a lot now but I used to catch the train before. I used to love just sitting there and talking to people.

"I would notice that a lot of the people I would talk to, particularly if they were women, they would love to say my 'dad is a firefighter' or my 'dad is an interviewer' like yourself.

"Did you ever hear of Roald Dahl's Danny, the Champion of the World?"

"No," I replied.

O'Sullivan continued: "I always had this dream of becoming a world champion, ever since Steve Collins defeated Chris Eubank at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. I remember watching that fight. It was amazing.


"I always wanted to be a world champion but when all the other kids are saying 'my dad did this' or 'my dad did that', I want my kids to be able to say 'my daddy was champion of the world'.

O'Sullivan's path to a world title has been derailed twice before, first by Saunders in 2013 and then again by Chris Eubank Jr. in 2015.

The two defeats represent the only lossess of his professional career, and they're the two fights he longs to have back, but he revealed that both defeats were affected by complications away from the ring involving the personal lives of his children.

O'Sullivan speaks with ease about bursting his eardrum and fighting with blurred vision during the Eubank fight, but he found it much more difficult to speak about the episodes involving his children and their personal lives.

His throat dries up, his speech becomes more deliberate and his demeanour gradually changes as the subject drifts away from the ring and towards a topic that throws much harder punches.

Spike can take the punches, he has to as a father, but he can also throw them too.

With 18 knockouts from 26 wins, O'Sullivan has established himself as one of the hardest punchers in the middleweight division.

He's always been a big puncher, he stopped five of his first six opponents in the pros, and despite reeling off 16 consecutive wins to start his professional careeer, confidence was a trait that did not come naturally to him.

"I lacked belief many years ago," added O'Sullivan.

"Paschal has instilled that in me and things have happened in the gym and in fights where he's made me believe I could become a world champion.

"It took many, many things to happen for me to believe in myself. I couldn't put my finger on anything in particular but I sparred Jermain Taylor and got the better of him.

"He was the undisputed middleweight champion of the world so I took a lot of confidence from that.

"I also sparred Martin Murray before he fought Gennady Golovkin and I felt I got the better of him. I thought I could have done better than what Golovkin did and Murray went 11 rounds with him.

"But one of the biggest things that I took confidence from during my career was when I knocked out Anthony Fitzgerald. He went the distance with Andy Lee and he gave him a lot of trouble.

"He fought Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam and went the distance with him too and I went to the bookmakers and put a bet on myself to knock him out in the first round.

"The bookmakers gave me 100/1 odds because he had gone the distance with two world champions and I knocked him out in the first round. That was huge for me."

Confidence is no longer an issue for O'Sullivan, it has developed and grown gradually over time.

Preperation is not the issue, this has been the fittest he's ever been heading into a fight.

The fear of losing is not a problem, he's lost and bounced back again... and again after that.

His issue is time and a lack thereof.

As he enters the tailend of his career he wants to be able to provide for his family but he also wants to be able to tell stories to his children and for his children to tell stories about him.

He just wants their tales to start with 'my daddy was champion of the world'.