Friday, January 22, 2016

Being a pro boxer is good for your mental health says Lynn Harvey

Lynn Harvey after her pro-debut with coach Daniel O'Sullivan

It’s a rare person who turns down a chance to join their national boxing team but that’s what one Irish boxer did when she decided to turn pro last year.

Amateur champion Lynn Harvey says she felt like a pro-fighter and with one win already under her belt she’s well on the way. This makes her only Ireland’s third pro female fighter with WBC champion Christina McMahon the only other active boxer. **

But unlike Christina who came to boxing via a successful kickboxing career, Lynn was only boxing for three years before taking her amateur title in 2014. Full of energy even just talking about boxing, as she is on her Twitter account she said:

“There’s so much to learn, things that if you don’t box you wouldn’t even think of. Every tiny detail that goes into throwing a punch is important. You’re never going to stop learning. It’s brilliant, it’s brilliant.”

But wasn’t she tempted to stay amateur even just one more year? She was offered a place on the Irish team, but declined.

“No, truthfully I would never have been a good enough amateur to get to that level. I was always more pro-style. I was never in-out and technical. It’s just a different style. I don’t mind saying that. I mean best in Ireland that’s fine and I might have gone to the Europeans if I had really, really worked at it but not the Olympics,” Lynn said.

“It doesn’t even appeal to me, it never did. I like the way in pro-style you box for yourself, it’s on your own shoulders. The place where I’m training is like a family but we’re all individuals.”

AMATEUR VS PRO

Lynn in her champion amateur days

She went onto talk about the style difference between pro and amateur, joking: “I know the money is shit”.

 “It was easy for me to adapt, I was a pro-style fighter even as an amateur. I was never in and out. The main change is slowing down the pace. In amateur it’s only four rounds, and now I’m working up to ten rounds.

“The main thing is keeping relaxed, doing everything much more calmly, more slowly. You’re picking your shots, taking your time. It’s a more laid-back style, so it forces me to wind-down, not to get so pumped up.”

She’s critical of applying “amateur” to athletes like Katie Taylor, saying the word has negative connotations. “They’re just amazing, so many amateur boxers would dance around pros. The tag is a bit unfair,” she says.

Her debut ended in a dramatic one round victory over Bulgarian Ivana Yaneva (see below) but she wasn’t impressed.

“I would have like to go a bit longer in the ring, there was more stuff I can do. But the main thing was I wanted to win and stop her, so I did. Hopefully the next time it will last longer. I would rise to the opponents,

I’d step it up in relation to whoever I’m in with. Being in with someone good makes me better,” she said.

 

MENTAL HEALTH

Lynn Harvey with her Celtic Warrior gym family via Lynn Harvey Twitter

For outsiders a super- healthy lifestyle can seem constraining, but not for Lynn: 
“I’m doing it all for boxing but the knock-on effect is better. I used to suffer with depression and anxiety, I still do get bouts and it drains your energy. You can barely lift your arms, but ‘cause I love boxing, I do get out to the gym. 

And it is better now, because I hardly drink, I eat better, it’s all helping, you know,” she says.
Her main focus is on training with coach Daniel O’ Sullivan at Celtic Warrior Gym. Under the close eye of her manager Paschal Collins, Lynn has big plans for the future.

But she also teaches women's classes four times weekly. Lynn said: ‘I’m very pro-women, it’s all women my classes. Even if I wasn’t like that, I find that a lot of men don’t want to be shouted at by a 5ft1 blonde female. Even with all my titles, that might make it worse, some men are able for it but …”

And while those women aren’t planning on fighting anytime soon, Lynn reckons if she succeeds and Christina continues to do well Ireland could see a few more pro-boxers.

“I think that a couple of girls could turn over, it depends on how appealing I make it. If I make it look exciting, if I get a good run it is going to tempt other girls. I don’t feel any pressure, and to be honest there only being two of us in Ireland suits me perfectly at the moment – it’s hard to get slots for women so it suits me for now,” she says, laughing.

Oh, and she’s mother to an 8-year old boy who happens to be a great running talent. Like I said, energy, energy, energy. 

EXTRAS 

Lynn Harvey’s pro-boxing debut October 2015 on YouTube thanks to Irish-Boxing.com

Lynn sparring with her coach Sean Carton back in 2014

More info about Celtic Warriors boxing gym, Dublin

** Ireland’s first female pro-fighter was Deirdre Gogarty, now a coach in America Listen to my radio documentary on Deirdre.

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