Anthony ‘Irish Bhoy’ Connolly is a 29 year old Dublin Bhoy, now boxing professionally out of Perth, Australia. Getting his debut under his belt this year, here he tells CeltsAreHere.com of his upcoming plans regarding boxing and his life so far supporting the famous Glasgow Celtic FC.
CAH: Hi Anthony, thanks for taking the time out to speak to us. First off, can you tell us how a lad from Dublin ends up boxing professionally out of Australia?
AC: That’s no problem mate it’s a privilege and honour to do anything with the Celtic family. I boxed when I was younger, was decent enough won a couple if national titles at junior level, and then drifted out of the sport in my late teens. Travelling to matches, getting absorbed in match day culture and what not played a big part I suppose, but I’m a boxing nut and I always loved the sport, that never changed. Fast forward ten years and I started back training was given the opportunity to turn pro and I took it with both hands; a chance to literally have my dreams come true and also give me a bit of closure as I always knew I had the talent to compete at a decent level
CAH: So you’ve always been a football fan, following Celtic from an early age?
AC: I had no real interest in football when I was younger nipper as I started boxing when I was ten. My da’ and brother are Man Utd fans. I got into watching football when I was about 12 or 13. But there was only one team for me and that was The Hoops!
CAH: Can you give us some of your first memories from those days of travelling to see Celtic?
AC: Well there was some great times and devastating times. I’ll never forget my first game at Parkhead. We were playing Aberdeen it was 1-1 with Thompson scoring for us a Zerouali for them. Days spent in Bairds and the welcome inn before games against the other lot and nights in the Brazen will never be forgotten just like the journey through the group stages of the UEFA cup and the trip to Seville. We went on a whim like most with no tickets we drove from Belamadina to Seville in a 7 seater, 11 of us crammed into it and were lucky to pick up tickets. There’s no need to talk about the result but there was only six that came back in the car. Still to this day I’ve never been able to watch that game on TV.
CAH: We can all associate with that pain, Anthony. What’s your views on Neil Lennon’s era and now Ronny Deila, who still has a lot of doubters?
AC: They were the best times of my life still. I think Lennon’s era was a success. Under the pressure that he was and the stuff that he had to put up with it just shows the type of character he Is, that he did stay put for as long as he did and didn’t succumb to the pressure. He got on with it and delivered as much as he could. Sure he had slip ups in cup finals and woeful displays against poor opposition but doesn’t every manager. In saying that I think the board hampered our progression at a time when we should have been and still should be tearing away from the rest of Scottish football. But instead they seem hell bent on downsizing our club, which brings us to Ronnie. He’s just not Celtic material. He was brought in to be a yes man. We’re desperate in the league and we may be top of the group in the Europa league but were still playing some absolute shocking football, against Astana we were woeful. But still I think the board is to blame they put a man in a position he wasn’t ready for. The current board have a lot to answer for on various issues at the min. They need to be sat down and re-hashed on everything Celtic and what it means to be part of this family. We are not just a club.
CAH: Moving to your boxing, straw weight(or minimum weight as its also referred to) isn’t a very fashionable division, especially in Europe. Are your Irish titles at that weight and what is the attitude to the division in Australia?
AC: I won my Irish titles at junior level but yes, wasn’t far of the weight I’m at now. I haven’t got much bigger since then ha. The attitude to the weight is good because of the proximity to Asia. Obviously there’s still issues getting opponents as everybody has to be flown in and it is a scarcely populated weight as it is. But as is with every boxer if you can put bums on seats you’ll get fights. So I really have to push tickets which can be like a full time job, ha!
(CAH: Funny but not funny as it’s a real distraction for fighters chasing tickets)
CAH: Yes, ticket selling is a distracting side of pro boxing isn’t it? Where does your fan base come from? Is it Celtic fans/Irish based in Oz and have you a lot of family down there?
AC: It is. Ideally a boxer should just have to train n box but unfortunately it’s just not like that. The support I get is from Celtic fans, the Irish community, mates of mates and my misses is Australian so get great support from her and her family. But there is a strong Irish and Celtic community here in Perth and it be great to have the support of every one. Because at this weight opportunities can come very quickly.
CAH: You’ve got your debut out the way now, good win against a bigger guy so what are the plans going forward?
AC: Now it’s a case of making the dream bigger. Like I said at the weight opportunity can come quick so I’m looking for a big year for 2015. Both the IBF and WBO Asian pacific titles are vacant at the weight and I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be contesting one of them by the mid to end of next year. I’ve linked up with a good promoter in CDL promotions and have changed gyms to the CDL gym so once I perform they’ll deliver. I have an opportunity because of my weight to win genuine titles and I don’t intend to waste it.
CAH: Would you like tell fans how to keep an eye on your progress? You’re on Twitter, are you on any other social media? Also how do fans get tickets for your fights?
AC: I certainly will mate and I appreciate the time you’re taking yourself to let the Celtic family know of another boxing Bhoy. I don’t have fans, I have supporters. The day I call any one supporting me a fan is the day someone needs to give me a kicking haha. Any one that wants to keep tabs on my career can do on twitter @antoceltic67 or facebook Anto Irish Bhoy Connolly. It’d be great if I could get the support of as many Celtic fans and boxing fans as possible. The buzz I got from walking out with the hoops was unreal my walk out music is the JR. capo. It’d be out of this world to hear fellow Tim’s roar it as I walk out.
CAH: That is awesome ring walk music mate, absolutely brilliant. I’ve asked this of everybody, what does the support mean to you pre-fight? I know how narky you boxers can get with the food/water deprivation, so does the constant tweeting/messaging give you lift or tire you out a bit?
AC: Mate, I’m not messing when I say this but every message of support I get genuinely means the world to me. And every message of support I get spurs me on that little bit more. People are taking the time to think about you and wish you well. What’s not to like about that?
CAH: Everybody will be glad to read that. I’ve followed your twitter for some time and I see that you’re a keen boxing fan too. What do you think of the current climate with regards to Irish and UK boxing? Anybody we should be especially looking out for?
AC: I’m a fan of boxing first and foremost, a student of the game of the game if you will haha. Ah I just love the sport mate like yourself. Tell you what though since I’ve moved to Oz between the Celts and boxing I’ve had too many sleepless nights watching both haha I think British boxing is in good nick. Plenty of promoters putting on plenty of shows. Irish boxing has been in slums the past few years but finally starting to look up. There’s always been plenty of good prospects in Ireland but unfortunately that’s not picked up like lads in the UK. Now though with cyclone promotions. Match-room with macklin (in fact the dublin match-room card is the most competitive card match-room have put on in a long time some belters on it) and a couple of small promoters there’s shows on and lads are getting out and getting noticed. There’s too many prospects to mention but Jason Jay Quigley(2-0) is absolutely class I genuinely believe he’s going to rule the middleweight division in the not too distant future.
CAH: Anthony, you’ve been great value pal. Quick fans fav Qs and we are done, you’ll be glad to know lol I thank you very much for this as I know you’re a busy man with family/training/full time job, so props pal and all the very best from everybody at Celts Are Here. Hail Hail Anthony Connolly.
Fav Celtic Player: Jinky
Best player you’ve ever seen at Celtic Park: Henrik Larsson
Best moment as a Celtic fan: Everything in the lead up to the UEFA cup final.
Worst moment as a Celtic fan:(I think we know this one pal) Yep, the final whistle in Seville.