Less than 12 months away from the Olympics and at least one Irish hopeful is thinking of gold.
Paddy Barnes can make history at Rio 2016 if he takes home any sort of medal from the next Olympic Games. The Ulster native already has two bronze medals from his exploits at Beijing in 2008 and London 2012, but thinks he’s good enough to take home the ultimate prize in sport next year.
However the Belfast man might have to cut down on his Mars bar intake and will definitely have to avoid Ulster’s Dan Tuohy too if he going to be successful after telling us some entertaining tales at the announcement of Electric Ireland as a sponsor to Team Ireland for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
How are you feeling less than 12 months out for yet another Olympics?
It’s a different feeling for me this time because the last times I’ve just gone and enjoyed it. I had the time of my life in London but I thought I could have won gold too. This time I really am going to go and I don’t see any other result other than me getting gold.
It’s a different feeling every time because you expect something different each time. This time I want gold. It’s made me more driven and more focused on that gold medal.
How has the World Series of Boxing helped you prepare for Rio?
There are five three-minute rounds and it gives me insight into what the professional life is like and the big crowds and big arenas. You fight in multi-nation events and you could be in a PE hall in the middle of Poland, but this is proper big show.
Any regrets about not going pro earlier?
No, definitely not. I’m happy with the success I’ve had as an amateur. I think after Rio it might be the time to go professional. It just depends on where I set up, maybe the east coast of America where I’ve some family. If it makes sense money wise I’ll have to look at it.
Did you watch any of the Rugby World Cup?
I don’t even watch sport really. I want Ireland to do well and I thought that when they were playing Argentina, I thought they played them in the Six Nations. I don’t know why I thought that.
But I did watch the Scotland-Australia game and I know Australia are a brilliant team and I couldn’t believe Scotland only lost by a point. I know a few of the Irish lads but I’m raging that they didn’t win.
You’ve hung out with the Irish squad a few times?
Yeah, we’ve been to Carton House a few times and I’ve even sparred some of them. One time Mick Conlan was sparring Sean O’Brien and I was up against big Dan Tuohy. It was funny because Dan is massive and I was throwing loads of fast ones and hitting him in the face and I could see him winding up for the uppercut.
Then I heard something behind me and Mick Conlan and Sean O’Brien just flew between us boxing the head off each other and I’d say if I had got that uppercut I’d be through the roof.
Thankfully they went past us and the next time I turned around Mick had battered O’Brien and Sean was getting sick in a bin.
What level is Mick Conlan performing at now?
For me Mick’s gold medal at the World Championships is on par with Michael Carruth’s gold medal in 1992. No amateur has ever won gold at a World Championship before, and it’s unheard of for boxers here until maybe the last championships. In two years maybe it will be Joe Ward doing it and it’s quite unbelievable.
What’s your schedule like at the moment?
I train twice a day, Monday-Friday, starting at 11am. I do the ‘running man’ for 90 seconds on a treadmill and then do an exercise for 90 seconds and the only way to get a break is if you finish before the 90 seconds.
That lasts for 45 minutes and I do a mix of cardio and strength and conditioning to get ready for a fight. Then we do skill work and sparring in the gym after lunch.
I squat 95kg and can push 75kg over my head so for my weight class that’s heavy.
What’s your daily diet like?
Dieting is the worst part of sport. Fighting and training is easy, and I find it so hard to stop eating shit. My breakfast this morning was coffee and a croissant, a Mars bar and two sandwiches!
But normally it is porridge and coffee, lunch is chicken and couscous and a shake and then dinner is meat and vegetables.
I have a sweet tooth and I have to eat sweets, I’m like a big child. There’s boxers that just eat sweets and do OK, so it’s not just the diet.
Have you taken much notice of Conor McGregor’s MMA career?
I don’t watch MMA one bit but I did watch his documentary and I thought it was brilliant and I love the way he goes on, it’s so funny. He knows himself he wouldn’t beat Floyd Mayweather but it’s a great promotional thing.
I do see some boxing skill in him, just the way he punches and his footwork is very good. You can tell he’s not a bad boxer because he has good technique.
Would you fancy facing him in the ring?
If he can pay for it no problem.
Why do you love Twitter?
To be honest with you the first person I followed and loved was Frankie Boyle and then he’s gone and blocked me. I never even talked to him in my life and he’s gone and blocked me, I’m raging.
I get abuse all the time but I never block anybody. Social media is where everything is going. People don’t even buy a newspaper anymore, it’s all online so social media is a great tool, it’s the way forward.