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Dempsey follows his professional dream

Sport

EYES ON THE PRIZE Adam Dempsey is pictured training at Achill Boxing Club. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Dublin-born boxer Adam Dempsey found his purpose when he moved to Achill

Feature
Ger Flanagan

MOVING to Achill Island from the fast-paced city life in Dublin isn’t for everyone.
There’s the social isolation, the lack of transport, and the feeling of being an outsider moving to a tight-knit community where the pace of life may not exactly be suited to most millennials.
So when Adam Dempsey and his family packed their bags and left Tallaght a decade or so ago in search of new beginnings, little did they know it would be the start of an exciting new journey into the world of professional boxing.
Adam’s parents, Martina Dempsey and Ken Quinn, had no real connection to the Island other than one family who they would staycation with every now and then. But they loved the surroundings and their holiday destination soon turned into their place of residence.
It was a shock to the system initially for young Adam, who was used to hanging out on the streets of Dublin. The hills and quiet roads of Achill Island didn’t have the same appeal.
But it was during one such boredom period that Ken suggested his eldest son try his hand at the ‘sweet science’, before soon realising that it was easier said than done.
But where there’s a will, there’s a way.
“I had never boxed before when I lived in Dublin,” Adam, now 21, told The Mayo News last week. “It was only when I came down here, because me, and Ma and Da wanted to get out of Dublin, because you know it was a bit dangerous and what not.
“We came down for a holiday with a family we knew and stayed for a while, ended up getting a holiday home, and Ma and Da loved it, so we ended up staying there.
“After a while when it sunk in with me that I’m not going back to the city, I did find it a bit boring at first and Da recommended I do boxing.
“He was searching for clubs and found one in Westport and Ballycroy, but they were both pretty far away, so he decided to set up his own club in Achill here and now he’s my head coach!”
Ken Quinn hadn’t much experience in terms of boxing either, but his willingness to go the extra mile and provide an avenue for his son to express himself and find a passion in life was almost like a stroke of destiny.
Over the years that followed, Adam and his father would travel to other clubs across the county to learn the ropes of the sport and invite more experienced coaches down to the Achill club for sessions. “It was a bit mad,” Adam laughed, but they soon found their feet.
The teenager’s natural talent was evident from the very beginning and it wasn’t long before he was standing out from the bunch. And it wasn’t because of his Dublin accent either!
“When we first started the club I was a bit quicker than the others to pick it up,” he said.
“A few of the coaches saw that and were telling me that I was going to be good if I kept at it.
“I made it to the National Final in my first year; I ended up losing, but it was a big experience. My first ever fight was against a national champion, everyone thought I was going to get killed, but I ended up beating him.
“Da wanted to get me on the Mayo team as well, but the coaches thought he was a bit mad because I was a novice. But he kept telling them to put me in. They eventually agreed, but said that, ‘If I get killed, it’s his fault!’ I held my own too.
“But from then on, I was hooked.”
As Adam Dempsey’s career as a boxer grew, so too did their little club in Achill.
In 2016 he represented Ireland at the European Championships in Hungary, getting beaten for a bronze medal against the eventual world champion from Russia.
But his emergence as a real prospect inspired his two younger brothers, Kenneth and Ben, who are now also national champions too. The club now have two more coaches on board, and a host of upcoming young talent in their ranks.
“It’s actually popping now,” Adam said proudly.
So a chance move to the West of Ireland a decade ago forged the way for him to begin his boxing career and culminated in him making the plunge into the professional ranks last week.
“It was a big change for me at first, from going out everyday roaming the streets, to having to leave all my friends behind and start again,” he explained.
 “I was bored out of my head at first but boxing just kept me going, it gave me something I enjoy. I’m not really good at anything else!
“God knows what I would have been doing if I stayed in Dublin, probably not sport anyway because I wasn’t into it. So boxing got me off the streets, if you like, and put me in a better place. I feel so fit and healthy now, it was a great move.
“People were looking at us wondering who the hell these guys were at first. But once we got to know them, they were very welcoming and the support from them has been great.
“I’m not even from Mayo originally, but the people of Achill have really had my back since I started boxing and I’m really appreciative of that.”

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