Olympic heartbreak to European dreams: The42 presents The Eric Donovan Story

Eric Donovan never achieved his dream of becoming an Olympian. He now has a new dream, and we’ve been following his journey towards redemption.


ERIC DONOVAN WANTED to be an Olympian.

The Athy boxer first walked into St Michael’s Boxing Club when he was seven-years-old. Four years later he won his first Irish title, aged 11.

At 15, he was a five-time Irish champion, a European medalist and had captained the Irish boxing team. That was when he left school to fulfill his ambition of becoming an Olympian.

He spent a decade in the IABA’s High Performance Unit, trading punches with the household names like Katie Taylor, Michael Conlan, Kenneth Egan, Joe Ward and other Olympians.

Despite watching his teammates light up the Olympic boxing podiums in Beijing, London and Rio, Donovan’s Olympic dream never came true.

“I was the ultimate professional in the gym. I trained very, very hard. I always gave my best inside the club; inside the Irish team. But it was outside of it that I also gave my best. To my social life too.”

He came cruelly close to qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, but succumbed to pressure when it mattered most. His lack of consistency is ultimately what kept his Olympic dream out of arm’s reach.

Now, at age 32, Donovan has turned to professional boxing as a redemption. His new dream is to become a European champion.

After winning his first three professional bouts, The42 followed him on his journey towards his fourth, a meeting with the Hungarian Laszlo Horvath, and delved into his past triumphs and shortcomings, to get to the heart of why he didn’t make the Olympic team and what’s changed to make him a European contender.

This is his story. This is Lilywhite Lightning.

To buy tickets for Donovan’s first title fight against Dai Davies on 9 September in the National Stadium, email 

About the author:

Eoin Lúc Ó Ceallaigh

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