An Armagh boxer has been “smiling from ear to ear” since the moment he found out that he would be making his professional debut in Belfast’s SSE Arena on the undercard of Michael Conlan’s world championship bout against Luis Alberto Lopez.
Former Armagh GAA and Pearse Ogs star, James Freeman has called it a “dream come true” as he steps into a professional ring for the first time in his short career, having swapped the football pitch for the squared circle – however, he was quick to admit the advantages that club football had on his development in boxing.
“Playing Gaelic has kept me disciplined throughout my life. I have always wanted to perform to my very best and I always took great pride in putting on the Pearse Ogs jersey. I will always be a Pearse Ogs man, and dealing with the pressure of performing on the big days led me to deep dive into the psychology of sport and transformed me into the person I wanted to be. Playing Gaelic at a high level has definitely helped me a lot (in boxing)”.
Growing up immersed in Gaelic football and soccer, the 28-year-old only began his boxing career in 2019, immediately entering on the semi-pro scene with no amateur background whatsoever.
However, following four fights and four impressive knockouts, Freeman is ready to represent his county again in a different form, in what he says will be a “historic night in Irish boxing”.
“I can’t wait to perform in front of all my travelling support. The Armagh people have really gotten behind me and the support I have received throughout my short boxing journey has been unbelievable! The SSE is going to be Orange and White,” said Freeman.
Under the guidance of his manager Ian Gaughran, ‘The Irish Drago’ is hoping to play a part in the rise of boxing in Armagh, and he has urged people to chase their dreams like he has, and to “never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something”.
“I was told by many people that I was too old to give this sport a go… but I always knew that if I kept grinding every day, I can have anything I want in life. I have great coaches in Dan Anderson and Paddy Gallagher, and I trust them to guide me in the right direction. I’m learning and improving every single day.”
The 28-year-old said that his ultimate goal in the sport is to reach his full potential and look back upon himself knowing he gave it “everything he has”.
The event will take place on Saturday, May 27 in the SSE Arena in Belfast, and the fight card will be shown live on BT Sport and ESPN. Tickets to the event that will also see Irish boxer Michael Conlan compete for the IBF Featherweight World Championship, can be bought by contacting James Freeman on Facebook or Instagram, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.