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From Olympic heartbreak to bill-topping professional boxer

Eric “Lilywhite Lightning” Donovan has set his sights on being European champion.
May 26th 2017, 3:52 PM 2,411 1


EVERY AMATEUR BOXER dreams of lacing up their gloves at the Olympics.

Eric “Lilywhite Lightning” Donovan was no different.

The Athy native started boxing when he was seven-years-old in St Michael’s Boxing Club — the same place where former Olympians John Joe and David Oliver Joyce learned their craft.

As an amateur, Donovan has been five time All-Ireland senior champion, has won European amateur boxing medals and spent time fighting in the World Series of Boxing in Kazakhstan.

He has been representing Ireland for the past decade as part of the high-performance team, touching gloves with our Olympic boxers from the past three Games.

His decorated amateur career was marked by inconsistent form and, he admits, a tendency for celebrating too much following a big win. His Olympic dream eluded him.

“I was definitely good enough. Really, really good enough. I’ve beaten Olympic medalists. But my problem was consistency. And I wasn’t consistent at the times I needed to be.”

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Michael Carruth with Eric Donovan, Kelly Harrington and Mick Dowling Having just missed out on qualifying for the Beijing and London Olympic Games, Eric was recruited as an analyst for RTÉ for the Rio Olympics last summer. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Now, at 31, Donovan has turned professional and has his sights set on becoming European champion.

He goes into his fourth fight against Laszlo Horvath of Hungary this weekend with a record of 3-0 as a pro and topping the card.

We’ve followed Eric for the past month, watching him prepare for his toughest fight to date and finding out about his journey to becoming a professional boxer.

A feature video on Eric’s story and preparation will be on The42 next month, including all the action from tomorrow night’s fight in the National Stadium.

Tickets for Eric’s headline fight at Celtic Clash 2 in the National Stadium are still available. Email for more details. 

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Eoin Lúc Ó Ceallaigh


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