Regan Buckley has sensationally retired from boxing at the tender age of just 22.
No doubt a host of amateurs will ditch the vest in 2020 as another Olympic cycle comes to an end, but most will keep their gloves off the hook.
Not Buckley, though, the popular Bray fighter has had enough and has hung them up.
The popular and entertaining Bray native contacted Irish-boxing.com to share his decision with the boxing family.
‘Rego’ initially suggested the decision was financial, pointing out he couldn’t continue to commit to the level of training needed without a grant.
“I’m after deciding to pack in boxing,” Buckley said.
“It was way too hard for me to keep on going training full time and not have an income. I was expected to be in the High Performance training Tuesday to Friday each week and then weeks abroad at competitions and training camps.
“All of this without any funding what so ever. My only source of income was 44 euro a week from the social welfare and for a 22 year old man it was impossible to even attempt to live off that.”
He claims financial worries weighed heavy on him and as a result effected his performances.
” It was something always on my mind worrying how I’m going to pay for anything at home, insurance, phone bills, rent. Had it not been for the help of my sponsors I wouldn’t have had a penny to my name when travelling abroad or wouldn’t have been able to get essential sparring gear.”
Considering he was deemed an Olympic option at flyweight and had medalled in the European Games, many would naturally assume ‘The Rocket’ had some form of centralised income.
However, that wasn’t the case and he seems somewhat perplexed himself.
“I did enquire many times about getting on funding with the High Performance but I was told it wasn’t possible each time. Even after winning a bronze medal in the European Games. I am ranked number three in Europe and number seven in the world – but still nothing to show for it.
“I put many years of hard work into this sport but the last year had been very tough for me to try and carry on and it finally got to a stage where it didn’t feel worth it anymore. So much worry and stress that nobody sees just in the small chance that I get selected for a team. So I’m finished up now got myself a full-time job.”
Things looked a lot rosier for ‘Rego’ when he returned from the pro ranks to win the first of the 2019 National Elite Championships at flyweight.
An emotional St Teresa’s man talked of Paris 2024 at that point, but with the change in the qualification format for Tokyo, 2020 became an option.
Winning a medal at the European Games made Buckley, who is also an under-22 and Intermediate champion, a viable Olympic option.
However, defeat in the second National Elite Championships of the year – Buckley lost to Jude Gallagher who has now moved to featherweight – opened the door for the then injured Rio Olympian Brendan Irvine.
‘The Wee Rooster’ was chosen ahead of Buckley to represent Ireland in the European Olympic qualifiers – and with no funding an little Olympic hope the former pro has decided to retire.
If Belfast’s Irvine failed to qualify via the European qualifying route Buckley could be selected for the World qualifiers set for Paris and May.
However, when pushed on that point he expressed a feeling the team for Paris is already picked.
“I won’t be hanging on for the second qualifiers. I feel like the High Performance had most of the team picked a long time ago, so hanging in for another few months of the same stuff and hoping I’ll get a chance just wasn’t possible financially.”
That perception he wouldn’t get a chance seems to have killed his passion for a sport his whole family is heavily involved in.
“It all really put me off the sport a bit I always had such a love and passion for it. I was always happy training at home with my Dad and I had that enjoyment when working towards tournaments, but you can’t compete in bigger competitions unless your in there all the time when your called up.”
Despite having only having two fights ‘The Rocket’ proved himself a decent pro prospect before returning to the amateurs.
He beat the now BUI Celtic and Irish champion Carl McDonald right before his return to the amateur set up.
However, the pros don’t seem to appeal either.
” I wouldn’t really be interested in turning over pro again to be honest, it’s more of the same hassle.”