Reigning Irish featherweight boxing champion Dervla Duffy has one goal – to win a medal for Ireland at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
The seven-time Irish amateur champ, 35, who trains out of Mulhuddart Boxing Academy, says she’s in the best shape of her life both physically and mentally.
Former jockey Dervla came late to the sport and credits Olympic champion and pro powerhouse Katie Taylor with making it possible for other women to enter the ring.
She told Dublin Gazette: “I came into it at the age of 26 which is a time when a lot of girls are probably finishing up. But I always had a thing in my head for it.
“I can’t explain why. I hadn’t seen any women’s boxing and didn’t know anyone else involved in it. I had asked my mother a few times when I was younger.
“I went to a few clubs but they all turned me away because I was female and they wouldn’t let girls box. Katie’s success changed all of that.
“She opened the door for girls not just in Ireland but all over the world.”
Dervla lives in Coolquay and travels to Mulhuddart – the Dublin west suburb which produced Olympic medallist Darren Sutherland – to train twice a day.
She also works out under national coach Bernard Dunne’s watchful eye in Abbotstown where sparring is not gender-based and men and women train together.
She said: “You pick up things from the lads. I think it’s very beneficial to be training with the guys. Mulhuddart is a very busy boxing club with high numbers of kids joining.
“I want to be a role model for younger children coming through and also a mentor. I’m the only female adult in the club and I train relentlessly hard day after day.”
Dervla packs in up to four hours’ training each day and has just recorded two wins at an international tournament where she was presented with a belt as Best Elite boxer.
She said: “People worry about women’s boxing but I had more injuries as a jockey riding horses than I’ve had in the ring. The Olympics are my only goal.
“My weight category has just been approved for Tokyo and I’m on track towards it.”