Feargal McCrory tells brilliant story about Padraig Hampsey's boxing days
"Paudie got hit, and his legs wobbled, he was rocked pretty bad."
McCrory is currently in New York preparing to fight in Madison Square Garden, so although he was a talented footballer that played for Tyrone underage teams, he was definitely right to choose boxing.
Hampsey was also a talented boxer who was very strong, come forward, and aggressive in the squared circle, but seeing how he lead Tyrone to their fourth All-Ireland and climbed the Hogan steps as captain, justifies his decision to stick to football.
Speaking exclusively to SportsJOE however, McCrory remembers how the All-Star had so much ability in the ring, and that if he stuck at it, he could have had a lot of success as a fighter.
"Me and Paudi went away on a good few trips together, I remember we went to Greece with an Ulster select. He was as hard as nails, he really was, and he was really unfortunate to not win two All-Irelands in boxing, on another day he would have won them.
"He was come forward and strong, but he wasn't just all guns blazing, he was technical as well,, very good at what he was doing. I remember he had a great jab and a great left hook.
"Physically he was so strong, he didn't just punch hard, but was so strong. He obviously went on to do incredible things, lifting the Sam Maguire is something we were all very proud to watch him doing.
"He's just a great lad, a great boxer in his time, and I reckon he would still be good at it now."
There's one occasion that comes to mind in particular, that highlights that special something that all great sports stars have, and there's no doubting that Hampsey has it in bucket loads.
"I remember on that trip to Greece, we were competing at an international event, and I remember Paudie got rocked bad in the first round, and this tells you a lot about people, like there's no hiding n a boxing ring.
"But Paudie got hit, and his legs wobbled, he was rocked pretty bad. I think there was 30 or 40 seconds left in the round, but he survived the round and we were the only two people from Clone Boxing Club there, and I was a couple of years older so I was protective of him.
"I was worried, but the bell for the second round went and Paudie Hampsey came out, and just jumped on him. You talk about a war - he lost in the end, but he fought a Greek lad in Greece, and he should never have lost that decision.
"You can teach anyone in the world how to box, but you can't teach them the balls to fight back , but he went gun-ho and gave an unbelievable account of himself. Unless you're in that situation and you've go hit with those shots, and he didn't go down, but he just fought, and he won the fight really, but didn't get it because he was fighting the local hero.
"He just bit down on his gum shield, stood there, and went another two rounds with this man, and you have to remember that he was only about 15 at this time, so that sort of grit and determination is just installed in him."
McCrory fights Nikolai Buzolin in Madison Square Garden on Thursday 9th November, live on UFC Fight Pass.
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