Dungiven’s Paul McCloskey has paid tribute to retiring boxer Eamonn O’Kane as “a very gifted fighter”.
The Banager man said his decision to hang up his gloves wasn’t easy but, after listening to his family and his body, he said it was the right decision.
The 34-year-old middleweight champion, known in the ring as ‘King Kane’, won Gold in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, bronze in the Europeans, fought and was undefeated in the WSB, “boxing some of the best our great fighting nation had to offer”.
“As a professional, in a somewhat short period of time and without the backing of a promoter, I have been Irish Champion, Prizefighter champion, WBC International champion, two-time IBF intercontinental champion and fought at the most famous arena in the world in a final eliminator for the IBF World title.
“Although I didn’t win my last fight at ‘ The Garden’ I left everything I had there that night and, going by the feedback, I received on the night and since, didn’t disappoint the boxing fans which it has always been my desire to please,” O’Kane said.
O’Kane said he picked up an injury to his neck after the New York fight. He said he had planned his “swan song”, an agreement in principal to fight “fellow countryman and a fighter I have immense respect for in Spike O Sullivan, this September in Belfast”.
I saw the hunger and commitment he had, and I was inspired by himPaul ‘Dudey’ McCloskey
“Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go the way I have wanted it, and I’m guessing anyone reading this will agree with it’s the same for them,” said O’Kane.
Former champion Paul McCloskey from Dungiven said when history looks back on Eamonn O’Kane they’ll recall “a very gifted fighter” who “wasn’t in too many dull fights”.
“Eamonn is a very good, close friend of mine. We grew up in the fight game together, Eamonn coming three years behind me, and we did plenty of sparring together.
“I saw the hunger and commitment he had and I was inspired by him,” said McCloskey.
“You never realise what you’ve achieve until people tell you, and I’m delighted he got what he wanted. One of the things you can say about Eamonn is he was never in too many dull fights. They were always action packed. He turned professional and tore into it from day one.”
Paying tribute to his wife Nicola (pictured above), and sons Charlie and Oscar, O’Kane said: “I have spent long periods of time away from them and, now with another child on the way, it’s the right time to acknowledge my blessings and be here with all of them.
“I want to thank everyone that has ever supported and guided me, from my first amateur coaches the whole way through.”
O’Kane paid tribute to Paul ‘Dudey’ McCloskey who he hailed as “inspirational”.
McCloskey said he classed Eamonn as “a younger brother”, describing him as “a genuinely nice fella who I trust 100 per cent”.
Paul, who retired from boxing two and a half years ago, had some advice on life outside the ring.
“It’s take time, but it’s important you get out with your faculties in tact,” said McCloskey, adding: “There’s more to life than the fight game.”