Following a Passion

For the best part of 2016 I have done everything in my power to enter the world of Combat Sports Journalism. I have been a fan of Boxing since I was able to throw a punch, however what really grabbed my attention was Mixed Martial Arts. I watched an undersized Frankie Edgar win the Lightweight belt in Abu Dhabi and I was absolutely sold on the sport. Back in 2010 it was a very underground sport a lot of people would never even have heard of the UFC unless you followed it dogmatically. I watched 1 or 2 fights in the past sure, but we were a working class family with a modest income so back in the early 2000’s my parents never deemed “Sky television” to be a worthwhile expense in the early days. However what I did have growing up was Bernard Dunne; watching his rise to the top on RTÉ 2 gave me the love I still feel today for Boxing never mind my personal issues with the sport now. And nobody was more heartbroken than me when he suffered that flash knockout loss to the relatively unknown Kiko Martinez at the time. I have tried and failed at various avenues which I thought I loved. I wanted to rap which I still love and got particularly good at, however no one cares about a 5 foot 8 white man from Dublin with a beard, trying to be respected in an African-American sub culture. So my dreams of becoming the next Eminem failed. I have run out of patience with “following my dreams” that is until on the 23rd of september 2015 I watched my dad die in front of eyes. My father was the quintessential provide for your family and do an honest day’s work type of man. He died at 64 years-old one year short of his retirement from a heart attack. His death taught me a valuable life lesson STOP BEING AFRAID to go after what I want because life is short and as much as my father thought me in life, his greatest lesson was thought through his passing go after what you want and stop being afraid to fail and so I did.

My greatest passion is MMA I talk about it all day watch fights for hours and just genuinely love the sport, so I went after it aggressively. I was accepted to Rathmines to study Journalism and emailed FightStore media to see could I possibly write for them, to which they allowed me and I am very grateful for the opportunity I have been given. My editor Liam McInerney who is himself a Combat Sports journalist sat down with me for an interview on how he got into the world of MMA Journalism and some of the ups and downs he has experienced in the field of Combat Sports Journalism.

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Liam McInerney is a 22-year-old Boxing and Combat sports editor for one of the biggest Mixed Martial Arts sites in Ireland, Fight store Media. He also is lead sports writer for TheCity.ie, I know Liam personally as he is also my editor for Fightstore Media. For the best part of 2015 and 2016 Liam along with Fightstore have travelled the length and Breadth of the country bringing the very best coverage in Irish MMA Kick boxing and Muay Thai. Fightstore media have seen their audience grow extensively over the past year and they cover a multi platform of content through their website, twitter account which provides up to date coverage of various MMA shows and extensive news links to articles posted on their site. One of their most popular forums is their YouTube channel which has over 950 subscribers and counting. They cover live events for some of the biggest MMA promotions both domestically and Internationally, organisations like BAMMA, Cage Warriors, Cage Legacy and even US Viacom backed powerhouse, Bellator which are the 2nd largest MMA organisation behind none other than the UFC. Which is home to the one of the biggest Irish Athletes of all time in Conor McGregor.

Liam is studying for a BA in Journalism and is currently in his final year in D.I.T, as a writer for Fightstore Media he has interviewed huge names from James Gallagher to former Strikeforce Champion Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal. With the huge surge in popularity of Mixed Martial Arts in Ireland, Fightstore plan to be one the leading figures in Combat Sports. Fightstore is a store in Kimmage Industrial estate who supply equipment various other products and services to Boxing and MMA gyms in Ireland. They also have their own MMA and Muay Thai Gym called Kamakazie.

ME – “So I suppose we have to get the generic question out-of-the-way, what sparked you’re interest in journalism particularly combat sports Journalism”?

Liam– “My passion for journalism was sparked in my early teens. I had it in my head since I was a kid that I would like to be an author, which is still an ambition of mine. But I suppose wanting to write books turned into looking into a career in journalism. Throughout school I knew my goal was to become a journalist.

In terms of combat sports, my brother has always been massively into boxing. It’s ironic, because for years I would refuse to take the sport seriously and would tell him it was stupid and that football was the only thing worth watching. I would get annoyed when I couldn’t watch match of the day because he was watching some big fight, and him being the older brother, he got his way. So if you where tell me then that I would one day become passionate about the sweet science and begin a career in combat journalism, I would have laughed.

So I was at home bored one day. I love reading but being from the country I couldn’t just go out to a bookshop. So I stumbled into my brother’s room and picked up Sugar Ray Robinson’s biography. I though, ah, I’m extremely bored, and I’ve heard of ‘Sugar Ray’, so why not learn about him.

I was hooked immediately, I fell in love with the story, a poor black kid moving to Harlem and becoming the greatest boxer of all time. The way his fights were described was poetic. I finished the book and thought; one day maybe I could consider boxing journalism. Beforehand I was fully focused on football.

Since reading that book I have been a combat journalist for about a year and half and would consider myself a bit of a fight nerd. I’m doing a thesis on Muhammad Ali and I’m constantly reading and watching old boxing footage. One day my boss gave me a bunch of old boxing magazines from the 20th century, which even impressed my brother”.

Me – “And was there a particular journalist who sparked a passion in you to pursue this as a career”?

Liam – “No particular journalist inspired me to do journalism; it was always a personal aspiration. I did work experience when I was in transition year in school under the guidance of sports writer Gordan Manning. I owe him a lot because he encouraged me to chase this dream. I remember on my last day of work experience he said that there isn’t many jobs in journalism, but if you’re 100% passionate about it, then you should definitely peruse it. That was great advice. I might not be rich, but I’m doing something I love”.

 

Me – “I can absolutely relate to going after what you love I think any journalist working is in it for that reason, I know you’re a Boxing fanatic could you give me your top 3 fighters to watch in 2017”?

Liam – Errol Spence Jr – “this kid is phenomenal. He could potentially go on to conquer the welterweight division which is stacked with talent. Not only is Spence elusive with rapid footwork and hands making him a master boxer, he also possessed a killer instinct to get the stoppage, a deadly combination”.

Tyson Fury – “I still consider him as the heavyweight champion of the world. The murmurings from the Fury camp are that 2017 is when he will make his comeback. And if he returns to face Anthony Joshua for the heavyweight crown, it would be one of the most historic bouts to ever take place in Britain. Fury seems to be suffering from mental health problems, so to see him return to a sport he loves and regain his titles would be an exceptional achievement”.

George Groves – “after three failed world title attempts including a heart-breaking KO at Wembley to Carl Froch, he finally seems to have found the recipe for success under new trainer Shane McGuigan, son of legend combatant Barry. Groves has one of the best jabs in boxing and has a dangerous right hand. He will soon challenge for a world title which if he wins, would set up a rematch with bitter rival James DeGale in title unification. Again, that would be one of the most anticipated fights in British boxing history”.

 

Me – “You covered a lot of Combat Sports in 2015/16 going up and down the country covering Muay Thai K1 and MMA fights across the country is there a particular event that’s stands out for you?

Liam – “A really tough question, there’s been so many. One that stands out was a Thai show in Cork. Unfortunately it stands out because it was a rare bad experience. We summarise fights as they happen, and one of our guys wrote that they believed fighter A should have got the decision over fighter B. And let’s just say the trainer of fighter B wasn’t happy, he came over to our seat at ring side aggressively, telling us we didn’t know what we were talking about. He then posted about us on social media. It was disappointing. We travelled all the way to Cork to give the sport coverage that it wasn’t getting anywhere else. And also in the past we had given his fighters some good exposure with interviews, the type that their local county papers were refusing to do. I think a lot of the guys on the Thai scene told the coach that the way he acted wasn’t right, and we’ve had no problems since. But most of the times the experiences have been fantastic. The fighters are unbelievably accessible and are always grateful for the coverage. It’s a pleasure to watch them perform”.

You can follow Liam on twitter @_LiamMcinerney.

– Phil

 

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