Life began when I retired - Bernard
SPORTING hero Bernard Dunne believes his life started once he hung up his boxing gloves.
The European Super Bantamweight champion stepped away from the ring in 2009.
But Bernard (34) said that although it was an incredibly frightening move to leave everything he knew behind, retirement has given him freedom to enjoy life away from the competitive professional boxing world.
"It's been five years since I boxed and people don't realise that. My life only really began when I retired. Everything was so regimented before - I knew what was happening every day, 365 days a year. I wanted to do other things with my life."
The athlete has been involved in the sport since he was five years old, but reached a point that he realised he wanted to broaden his horizons.
However, the Dubliner said that he almost considered going back for a few more rounds.
"I retired and though 'What's bloody next?'" he said. "The first two or three months were OK but I got bored very quickly. In the beginning I enjoyed the novelty of not having to watch my weight and being able to eat biscuits. That wore off. I was still young and fit.
Scary "I went close to going back to boxing because I thought there was nothing else I could do. It was scary to leave behind the only thing I knew."
Bernard has embraced his freedom and has gone on to write a book, present an RTE show, work with a performance coach at the GAA and learn Irish.
The dad-of-two has become an ambassador for Microsoft and FIT, which encourages young people to upskill and obtain qualifications in IT. It aims to take 10,000 people off the live register.
His children Caoimhe (7) and Finnian (6) and his wife Pamela are no doubt enjoying his extra company.
Bernard is passionate about promoting simple steps to prevent childhood obesity - and is urging the Government to take note.
"There was nothing done to reward me for being good at sport in school, but if you were good at maths you were recognised," he told Irish Country Magazine.
"I'm not talking about examining a child's ability to play sport - I'm talking about nutrition and fitness. We need to bring these aspects in to encourage children to learn."