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Dunne And Dusted
After a career which saw him claim the world title in 2009 on a dramatic day for Irish sport, Bernard Dunne has hung up the boxing gloves. He talks to Craig Fitzsimons about his memorable win over Ricardo Cordoba, his new autobiography – and why he has no regrets about calling it a day.
Craig Fitzsimons, 29 Nov 2010
It’s just over a year now since Bernard Dunne hung up his gloves, after an unforgettable career marked by a lot of triumph and just a little heartbreak. The Neilstown bruiser fought what turned out to be his last fight at the age of 29, and when the end came, it was swift and brutal: a ferocious Thai killing machine boasting the compact name Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (literal translation: Full To The Brim With Prosperity And Red Bull) brought the curtain down on Dunne’s career, flooring him three times before the third round was out.
Five months later, a fortnight after turning 30, Dunne made the decision to quit, briefly provoking shock and sadness among Irish fight fans, as an unforgettable rollercoaster adventure came to an end. Perhaps selfishly, most of us wanted him to give it one more go. But once we’d digested the decision, we knew deep down he was doing the right thing. In his excellent new autobiography (strikingly insightful, honest and sharply-written by the standard of most sports biogs) Dunne outlines the thought process that led to his retirement:
“(Marvin Hagler) walked away clean - I don’t know why he stopped, but I know the highs of boxing don’t last forever and I wanted out now, as close to the top as I might ever be. I said years before that I would retire when I was 30. Back then I thought 30 was old. I didn’t want to become punchy and as yet I wasn’t feeling any side effects. I have been hurt and not remembered things after a fight but they always came back. From the end of 2006 onwards I’d been experiencing double bouts of vision in the eye. It was a muscle imbalance: I had an operation to fix the problem. I also didn’t want to be the guy who hangs around the gym annoying young fellas with stories of the old days...
“I wasn’t a journeyman. I went out on a world title. The worst thing I could have done is go through the motions. Thankfully, I’ve still got some brain cells in my head... I fulfilled my dream. Winning the European title. Winning the world title in front of my home crowd. That’s what dreams are made of. I regret nothing. I loved my career, loved boxing. It’s been a great trip, but I’d like to think I’m clever enough to say enough is enough.”