IF confidence breeds success then Derry boxer, Connor Coyle will be making the short journey home from Scotland this summer with a Commonwealth gold medal draped around his neck!
The Galliagh man has no shortage of self-belief in his locker and is convinced he can follow in the footsteps of former sparring partner and 2010 Commonwealth gold medalist Eamonn O’Kane at this summer’s showpiece in Glasgow’s East End.
Many of N. Ireland’s finest amateur boxers are still punching in the dark as they bid to rubber stamp their place in the squad for the Games which kick-off inJuly 23rd next.
However, Coyle is certain of his position in the 11 member squad, given his total domination of the middleweight division at provincial level over recent years.
The Ulster Council has named Coyle in its panel of boxers they believe have merited their place in the Commonwealth team which they put forward to the N.I .Commonwealth Games Council last week and which has yet to be officially confirmed.
And Honorary Secretary to the Ulster Boxing Council, Sadie Duffy was reluctant to talk about individual nominees when questioned this week, until the team of boxers they’ve selected has been ratified by the N.I.C.G.C.
But there’s little reason to doubt Coyle’s selection and he has already quit his job as a floor fitter to concentrate on what is a gruelling, demanding and financially draining training regime for the next 16 weeks.
The 2014 Ulster Elite middleweight champion ticks all the right boxes in terms of qualifying criteria and the stipulations set out by the Ulster Council. He’s brimming with confidence as the tournament gets closer.
The 23 year-old helped 2010 Commonwealth middleweight champion O’Kane prepare for his participation in the Delhi Games and now that he’s been thrust from the sidelines and into the spotlight, he’s finding it hard to curb his enthusiasm.
“I’m over the moon,” said the big punching middleweight. This is one of the biggest events in the world in amateur boxing in my eyes.
“I’ve put the head down this past two years and I know how far I can get and I’m going to keep my head down until I make it to where I want to be.
“I always knew I would get selected because there’s no one else in Ulster at my weight who could have put me out of the ring,” he said defiantly.
“I won the Ulsters two years in a row so I knew I was concrete to go but I just needed that word to say I’m going. I woke up to a text message from my coach, Cahir Duffy last week saying, ‘Get ready for Scotland,’ which was brilliant.”
The St Joseph’s member has a steely determination and claims he’s in the best shape of his life. And Coyle has promised to get even better under the tutelage of the best coaches in Ireland once the Commonwealth Games training regime kicks into gear.
“I’m 10 times in better shape than I was even last year. I’m 23 years-old and I’m just starting to peak now. I feel I’m just getting better and better.
“I’ll be coming back from Glasgow with a medal - 100 per cent,” he said. “I’ve never had that confidence before but I’ve got it now.
“It gave me great confidence stepping into the ring with Eamonn and giving him a good spar. The last Commonwealth Games he brought back a gold medal so my confidence is through the roof. I know I’m capable of doing the same.”
There were eyebrows raised when the International Amateur Boxing Association took the decision to remove headguards from amateur boxing tournaments as of June last year.
A lot of boxers were not in favour of the decision, but one who has certainly benefited from the move was Coyle who believes it gives him an added edge over his opponents given his sheer strength and punching prowess.
“Especially now that there’s no head gear my confidence has grown. I punch hard and the last two boys I’ve fought felt the power and didn’t want to know.
“The first boy I stopped 20 seconds into the second round. My strength and power is all there. I’ve 16 weeks now until the Games start so I’ve got to use that time to work on that even more.
“When you get hit you really feel it. If you get caught with a clash of heads you’ll feel that too. But rarely do I give my opponent a chance to hit me. I’m always in and out fast.
“You’re vision is obviously a lot better as you’re not fixing your headgear all the time. When you land a hard shot you feel your knuckles sinking in.
“When the team meets up together to train my confidence will grow even more I’m sure as we’ll be encouraging each other to do better. So I can only get better. I’ll have the best elite coaches in Ireland in my corner so that can only be a good thing.”
The provisional Commonwealth Games panel, which also includes Coyle’s stablemate Blaine Dobbins who is in reserve in Paddy Barnes’ light-flyweight division, will fly off for an intensive training camp to Germany next month before putting the final touches on their preparation at the state-of-the-art SINI facility in Jordanstown.
“We’ve got a training schedule now for the team,” confirmed Coyle after last Sunday’s Ulster Boxing Council at St Agnes ABC in Belfast. “I’ve finished work to start training flat out, twice a day now and then start picking it up to three times a day. I’ll do that five or six days a week and then take a rest day and just do some running.”
Financial Support Needed
Such dedication will require substantial financial support and Coyle is actively seeking sponsorship from any local businesses willing to help him pursue his dreams.
“I’ll be looking for sponsorship from local businesses. Financially I need plenty of backing for my proper diet and nutrition and my training gear and other expenses to keep me going.
“I was working as a floor fitter and had to give it up. With this schedule there’s no chance I could fit working on top of that.
“I’ve had to take a step back from work so I have to get financial support to help me pursue my dream and bring a Commonwealth medal back to Derry,” he concluded.