I recently spoke to Milltown man and Kerry’s sole male pro boxer Kevin Cronin, in the aftermath of his debut in the paid ranks on March 30th in Dublin.
Q: How did you start in boxing?
Kevin Cronin: Well, to be honest, I didn’t grow up starting boxing at a young age. I started quite late, at about 16 or 17, just to lose a bit of weight really. I put on a lot of weight, I went up to about 108kg. I met this coach out in Cashen Vale (boxing club in Ballybunion), Patrick O’Brien. I went into it to lose a bit of weight but I got attached to it.
Q. At what point did it get serious? How long were you training for before you had your first amateur fight?
KC: I was just training for the first 6 months to get a bit of weight down. I was training, still around 100kg, and a white collar show came up. I said I’d just box in it for the craic, I’m just here to lose a bit of weight really. My coach said it’ll be a bit of fun, just a minute and a half rounds. I said ‘I’ll do it’. Next thing, I did it, and I said, you know what, I might give it a go. I started competing a small bit.
From there it built on. I was walking around about 98kg., and I said I’ll take it a bit serious and I cut down to 91. Starting in 2017, I said I’d really take it seriously. I entered the novices, got on well though I didn’t win them out unfortunately. I went away, did a lot of training, a lot of sparring, came back and won the International Celtic Cup at 91kg. I moved up to intermediate, won the Munster title. I had a few injuries and bits, cut down to 81kg, and that’s when I met Leonard (Gunning). There were a lot of fights in between, but those were the main ones.
Q. So how many amateur fights did you have in total, do you think? Do you know the exact number?
KC: I had 25 amateur fights.
Q. What can you tell me about your amateur club?
KC: My amateur club, Cashen Vale, it’s a brilliant club. In my eyes, it’s the best club in the county, but that’s just speaking from coming out of there. It’s where I learnt my trade, I guess you’d say. Without them, I wouldn’t be here boxing.
Q. You got into boxing, as you said, at a pretty late age, but were you a fan growing up? Did you have any inspirations?
KC: I was always a fan of watching boxing but I was more of a person of if boxing was on, I’d sit down and watch it. I wouldn’t go planning to spend the night watching this fight [or that], but now, it’s an addiction.
Q. I know the feeling. Tell me how you met Leonard and decided to go pro.
KC: Me and Leonard were chatting from when I won the intermediate Munsters. We were just chatting over Facebook for a good while. Next thing, we didn’t talk for a while, I broke my hand and was out for a bit. I wanted to keep busy. I didn’t want to just fall off the wagon so I talked to my coach and said maybe we’ll cut a bit of weight when I’m out, and see if we make 81kg: light heavy. He said ‘no, we won’t’. But I just really wanted to do it and it’ll keep us busy for the next couple of months while I’m healing.
We did that. We came back over at the Haringey (Box Cup) and fought at 81. Leonard was actually over there watching it and that’s when we had the real chat with him after that. So I decided to sign.
Q. At what point in your amateur career did you decide to give it a go as a pro?
KC: When I won the Celtic Cup, I had more of a mind for boxing. I knew what I was doing. From then on, I knew I had more of a style for the pros. I was a lot better flat footed than bouncing around on my toes, scoring points like they do in the amateurs. I was always good for walking my opponents down and picking my shots, which I think will suit the pros very good.
Q. Do you have the same set-up for your pro career as your amateur? Has a lot changed?
KC: A lot has changed. I am no longer with my amateur coach. I’m with Jonathan Lewins in Dublin. I train with him at the weekend. I’m training then some days during the week in Tralee, just to keep me going until I get up to Jonathan. I get up to him as much as possible really. We’re getting the spars in, we’re getting the padwork in, we’re getting everything in. He’s definitely changed my mind for boxing. He’s making me hungrier. He’s making me love it more and more every session.
Q. Are you a full time boxer at the moment or do you do any work or study as well?
KC: I work in Tralee. I’m still working a full time job and training 2 or 3 times a day. I’m up in the morning, half 5 or 6 o’clock, into the gym training, doing my cardio or strength and conditioning. I do my boxing then straight away when work finishes. I go home, get a bit of dinner, hit the road to do a bit of running. If I’m not working or sleeping, I’m training.
Q. How do you find balancing the two? People often talk about how difficult it is when you’re not a full time pro, trying to have a social life as well.
KC: I guess it’s just how much you want it really. I don’t mind balancing the two because I love doing it. If you want it enough, you’ll make it work.
Q. Tell me about your pro debut. I know you were meant to have it a bit earlier than it panned out.
KC: I was meant to have it in November. Unfortunately, my license didn’t come through for it. But in fairness, the lads, they kept looking into dates, and then got me on Clash of the Titans. It was a bit later than predicted but couldn’t have went any better. Maybe it was for the best, to help me settle into the pro style a bit more before I got out there and did the job.
Q. Tell me about the debut, the night, getting to the venue. You’d obviously boxed at the National Stadium before as an amateur.
KC: It might have helped a bit but knowing now after coming out of the ring, it’s really a different sport to the amateurs, even making the weight. It was difficult enough making the weight, but we made it. Actually, we made light heavyweight so, our next outing, we’re going to go for super middleweight.
We made the weight and then I guess it was just about trying to stay chilled, stay calm over the next 3 or 4 hours. I had my strength and conditioning coach, Peter Donoghue, Peak Fitness in Tralee, he was with me the whole 24 hours and he kept me as chilled as possible, trying to keep all the nerves away. Once we got to the Stadium, that’s when the nerves started kicking in, started getting jittery. There’s no point in saying I wasn’t nervous, I was rattling in my boots. When we walked out, the music and everything, it was just adding more and more to the nerves. The minute I got in the ring, all the nerves went out the window and I knew I was there to do one job.
Q. How do you feel the fight went for you? I was there, I saw it live.
KC: I don’t think my debut could’ve went any better really. Maybe I could have boxed a bit better, gotten a bit more behind my boxing but it was my debut. I boxed, I won every round. I got four rounds in and I stopped him in the fourth. So what more could I ask for?
Q. When do you think you’ll get out for a second fight and what’s the plan in terms of activity?
KC: Hopefully mid summer, all going well. I know there’s talks of September, but I’m hoping myself to get out myself mid summer, hopefully before July.
Q. Is it just a case of seeing what the weight cut down to super middleweight is like and if that’s the weight class you’re going to settle in?
KC: If I’m ever going to do it, I want to do it now. I don’t want to wait until I’m ten fights in and say I should be at super middle. I want to do it now and see if it’s for me. If it’s not for me, we can build at light heavyweight. If it is for me, all the better, we can work at super middleweight from the very beginning.
Q. Everyone wants to be on a big show, main eventing, fighting on tv, all that sort of thing, and now TG4 are backing the Assassins Boxing/Boxing Ireland shows. Tell me what you think about that, as well as your general ambitions. I know it’s difficult given that you’ve just had your debut and are trying to cut down to a different weight but tell me what you’re thinking.
KC: I think TG4 getting behind them is absolutely brilliant. When was the last time boxing in Ireland was really televised or promoted?
Q. Ten years ago I guess.
KC: The Bernard Dunne era, you know. The talent out there is unreal. The goals, well the goal at the minute is to build experience. I don’t want to jump in saying I want to call out this fella for a title. I have no right to do that. I’m one fight in. I want to build as much experience as I can, take it as it comes, and after a couple of fights maybe put myself in line for a title. Hopefully get one down home in Kerry and finally get a pro show in Kerry, sell out some big arena.
Q. I remember I missed out on it because I only got into boxing myself in my late teens, but there was a boxing show at the Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney, in 2008. Wouldn’t it be great if there was something like that again?
KC: I never even knew there was a boxing show in Kerry.
Q. Mike Perez fought on it. [Note – this is the Boxrec entry for the show in question: http://boxrec.com/en/event/559668%5D
KC: I’m not going to say anything on it until I build up my wins, but that would be a goal for the next three years maybe, put myself in line for a title and then compete for it at the INEC. That would be a dream come true. For the next three years, that’s my goal.