22 February 2010 – By Bernard Dunne and Brian Peters
After a lot of thought and reflection the time has finally come to bring my career as a professional boxer to an end.
For the past 25 years boxing has been my life but now it is time for a fresh start.
The easiest thing in the world would have been to climb through the ropes and fight again but honesty has always been very important to me and I am being honest to myself, to my family and to my supporters with this decision.
The great Irish fans that travelled on the journey to a world title belt with me deserved better than to pay their hard earned cash just to see me go through the motions. I could never do that to them.
Thankfully I have realised all my dreams and achieved all my goals since I followed my dad into boxing. To win a world title is something I will never forget and something I am so proud of and I would like to thank everyone who helped make that possible.
This is a sad day for me and for my family but it is also an exciting day and a new start in my life, one I am really looking forward to.
Bernard’s decision to hang up his gloves has my full backing and support. We’ve had a number of discussions since Bernard lost his World title last September and having scaled the heights he has as a World and European Champion he believes that now is the right time to walk away and I am 100% behind that decision.
As Bernard’s manager throughout his career we’ve enjoyed an incredible roller-coaster journey that has been shared by the nation and Bernard is retiring safe in the knowledge that he has established himself as an Irish sporting icon.
I remember watching Bernard as a young kid coming through the amateur ranks in the 90’s and instantly recognising that he was something a bit special. He possessed an innate natural ability that had been nurtured by his father Brendan and the late, great Peter Perry at the CIE club in Inchicore and it was obvious even then that he was destined for great things. Not long after Bernard had turned 16 I arranged a sparring session for him with then World Champ Wayne McCullough who was at Luttrellstown Castle preparing for a World title defence in Dublin.
Most kids of his age would have been overawed by the experience of stepping into the ring with a reigning World Champion but Bernard thrived on it and proved to me in the process that he had the mental attributes as well as the physical attributes to succeed at the very highest level. Bernard would of course go on to prove that with his World title win over Ricardo Cordoba on that incredible night at The O2 last March.
It’s an occasion that no one who witnessed it will ever forget. Those eleven breathtaking rounds saw Bernard produce one of the finest ever performances in the history of Irish sport dragging himself up off the canvas on two occasions to come back and record a famous victory over a very good Champion.
Of course there were lows as well as highs but the dignified manner in which Bernard accepted his only two defeats in mandatory defences against Kiko Martinez and Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym further endeared him to the Irish public.
Taking Bernard to the heights of European and World titles was always a team effort and Bernard himself would be the first to acknowledge this. Everybody played their own role and there are far too many people to mention but I think it would only be fair to thank his professional trainers, Harry Hawkins and Freddie Roach, his sponsors Martin Donnelly and Hunky Dorys and of course Glen Killane and RT who helped to turn Bernard into a household name across the country.
We’re also very grateful for the loyal support we’ve had down through the years from The Star, Newstalk, Dublin’s 98 and O’Neills.
We owe a major debt of gratitude to the general public who took Bernard to their hearts and believed in him even after the Kiko Martinez defeat, a belief which Bernard repaid just over 18 months later with that breathtaking win over Cordoba.
Bernard’s success and crossover ability paved the way for the emergence and growth of professional boxing in Ireland ensuring that a whole new generation of Irish boxing stars can now ply their trade at home and in front of terrestrial TV audiences. For his last fight over 50 per cent of the nation tuned in to watch Bernard, a phenomenal statistic that underlined his popularity and the popularity of a sport in which, if you excuse the pun, we have always punched above our weight.
I know that Bernard’s achievements will ensure he forever holds a place in the hearts of the Irish sporting public and I know that with his engaging personality he will prove just as popular in retirement as he did during his boxing career. He has a lovely young family and his retirement will give him plenty of time to enjoy the fruits of his labour with his wife Pamela and their kids Caoimhe and Finnian.