How has your life prepared you for what’s ahead? Now more than ever is the time to box clever!

Published by Ryan O'Keeffe

The above picture is my dad Raymond, the youth featherweight Cork & Munster Champion. He had only been boxing a short while and was now fighting against the “All Ireland Champion.”

My dad won that fight; some might call him the “Lineal” youth lightweight champion of Ireland.” (some of you might know that term “Lineal” from another Irish Champion lol)

Eighteen months later, at the age of sixteen, my dad was sent from Ireland to England to join the British Army. His mum was a widow with nine children and my dad was the wild one so I guess she felt it was the right thing to do.   My dad had to overcome a sense of rejection, the loss of his father and then start a new life as a sixteen-year-old boy in a different country.  My dad was mocked with his Irish accent, lonely being away from his Irish family and fearful of the IRA every time he went back to visit his mother in Cork.  She would hide the pictures of her son in his military wear every time there was a knock at the door.

My dad met my mum in the army and my brother Paul was born in Germany.  My mum and dad split when I was seven, and my dad wanted to take care of his two boys, pretty unusual at the time as I knew plenty of single-parent families on the estate but only kids living with their mums.

I believe that sometimes our traumas in childhood can affect our actions positively and not always negatively as many would believe.

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Now I am a parent, I can appreciate and admire my dad for the commitment he made to bring both myself and my brother Paul up, he was not perfect, but he did his best. I learnt to be independent and resilient from a young age.  I knew what love was.

My dad managed to send me to a private school when I was eight years old. He couldn’t pay for the school; instead, he cleaned the school in return for me attending.

This school gave me an outlet, and I loved it.  I mixed with the boys on the council estate and my middle-class school friends every day.  This was when it started, the ability to interact and build trust with all types of people and from different backgrounds.  I was a promoter for all of them.  Genuinely wanting them to progress and ultimately be happy.

Since leaving school, I have worked all my life, developing every year.  I have suffered with plenty of battles.   I lost my girlfriend Helen to cancer at 21.  My first child Rory was born in 2014 with chronic Kidney disease.  My second child Grace was born in 2015 not breathing and had suffered a brain injury, known as HIE Grade 3 (NHS prognosis is 100% death or severe disabilities). She was expected to die; miraculously she ended up pulling through 100%.  In November 2019, my wife Karen and I had our third baby Bonnie which was a fantastically normal experience.

These life-changing events have changed my perspective forever, I can never go back, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  My purpose is to give to others and help them to achieve a place of truth and happiness

Life is like a boxing match, like a championship fight in this pandemic, the stakes are high.  Sometimes you will have plenty of training and other times you won’t.  Will you come out for the fight? Will you retire on your stool when you have had enough? Or will you fight to the very end?

I am inspired by all the battle stories.

I applaud you all for getting in the ring and not giving up.

Keep punching.