23 March 2011 – Steve Wellings
Former Oliver Plunkett club man Mark Ginley has decided to ditch his head guard and vest and join the ever growing number of Belfast-based pugilists turning pro under Graham Earls fledgling promotional outfit. Ginley will make his first paid appearance on April 2 in the Kings Hall complex as part of the Fists of Fury show where a number of exciting prospects will showcase their skills to the Belfast faithful.
“I didn’t box too well in the Commonwealth Games box-offs, because I was just back from a holiday in Mexico, and that was one of the main reasons I decided to turn pro,” Ginley explains. “I had a few fights after that one though and it was the result in a fight against Cyprus that really made my mind up for me. I boxed the head off the Cypriot guy and I was on the losing end of the decision. It was then that I got chatting to Graham Earl and things started rolling from there.”
Ginley wouldn’t be the first fighter to lose heart with the amateur game after losing a bout, in his eyes unfairly, on the points scoring system. He did however enjoy enough success in that code to persuade the 23-year-old that he had the talent to make it as a pro and, more importantly, gave former British champion Earl reason to add Mark to his burgeoning stable.
“I boxed for Irelands senior team against Russia and England, won a bronze medal in the UK CYPs in 2006 and was Intermediate champion that year,” he continues. “I also won five Ulster gold medals, four Antrim gold medals and four Northern Ireland CYP golds during my time. I got a victory against the USA in June 2009 in New Jersey and later won a silver medal in Cyprus at the Limassol cup in October 2009. Other countries in the competition were England, Greece, Russia, Cyprus and then Northern Ireland.”
Ginley describes himself as an exciting fighter with a busy style who likes to keep it long and counter punch his opponents. The prospect is still awaiting confirmation of an opponent on debut night but is unphased by whoever Earl places in front of him. “It doesn’t really matter who I fight because he only has two hands like me and I’ve trained too hard so far to lose this bout.”
Now based in Gleann BC, located off the Glen Road in west Belfast, two men with growing reputations will oversee Ginley’s progress. Former Immaculata boxer Gerard McManus will take on main coaching duties while Paul McIlroy will handle strength and conditioning.
“I have a great team around me and we all work very well together, enthuses Mark. We are working out of the Gleann boxing gym but I still call into my amateur gym, the Oliver Plunkett, just to see all the lads and coaches. I get on very well with my former coaches Patsy McAllister and Jimmy McGrath; they will be there at the Kings Hall cheering me on. Tommy McCarthy and Tyrone McKenna [former Plunkett gym mates] are good friends outside boxing and I still see them all the time.”
Working with Graham Earl is already starting to benefit Ginley as he looks to make a smooth transition from amateur achiever to professional hopeful. Some good intense sparring, which currently sees him enjoying a spell of training in London, will help ready the Belfast native for his big hometown debut.
“The camp in London is going brilliantly,” he confirms, “and I’m getting plenty of rounds done. I will hopefully get to spar a few rounds with Graham before the training is finished. I have been sparring Mark Morris and Eddie Nesbitt who are both preparing for their professional debuts and train in the same gym as me. I’ve sparred Commonwealth gold medallist Paddy Gallagher and Paul Hyland and James Fryers from the Immaculata club.”
“My brother Sugar Ray Ginley is over in London too for some sparring. Ray boxes with Gleann now; he’s won Antrim and Ulster Intermediates and was crowned Ulster senior champion. He’s a very good kid and when we train together its great because we push each other even harder.”
Mark competed in the 64kg weight class as an amateur but was naturally light for the weight, having found 60kg a struggle. Oliver Plunkett coach Patsy McAllister was also understandably keen to keep Ginley away from another of his prized assets, Tyrone McKenna. Mark is eyeing the lightweight 9st 9lb limit when he begins punching for pay on April 2. Another promising career will begin at the famous Kings Hall (in the adjoining Nugent Hall) that has held fights involving so many great champions of yesteryear. Ginley will star alongside the next batch of eager boxers, aiming to become the Belfast boxing heroes of tomorrow.
“My career aspirations are to become the best I possibly can be – I didn’t turn pro to make up the numbers, he declares. My eyes are set on a British title just because from boxing as a novice amateur, I always viewed the Lonsdale belt as a big deal. That’s the one I want to win and then I can move on to bigger things, but at the minute my sole focus is on my debut and getting that important first win.”