Jason Quigley was back at school on Wednesday last for a special occasion at the Glebe National School in Donegal Town.
Hours after Prince Charles and Camilla had visited the town and met some of the Glebe NS students on the Diamond, they had a visit from another special guest when Jason Quigley, on a break at home from his professional boxing duties, paid a visit to the school where he started his education.
After giving the pupils a talk about his life as a very successful professional boxer, he fielded a host of questions from the pupils. And he did so in such a relaxed manner, it was easy to see that he was very much at home.
"It's always busy when I come home but for me this is the enjoyable part of boxing. It is just such a nice moment, coming back to the school that I started out in. Especially to see the teachers that taught me.
"It is strange chatting to them now as an adult, where as before. But it is really nice and it's a proud moment to come back here,” said Jason.
One of the questions asked by a pupil put him on the spot. ‘Would he rather America or Donegal’? However, Jason was like a politician, saying that he was home in both, but he quickly added: “It’s only when you are away from Donegal that you realise how good it is to live here.”
Standing up in front of a classroom of pupils doesn’t faze the former Finn Valley AC boxer, who had reached the top in amateur boxing before turning professional.
"For me, I think I get more out of it than the young people get out of it. It is a nice feeling for all the young kids to be so excited, just for me to walk in the door. And it's so simple and easy for me to do,” said Jason, who added that there was no pressure on him in these situations.
"You see the kids asking questions; I could sit there all day answering questions. Anything that could help them. It is small things like that could change their lives. Some wee thing I might say and it will change things and they'll go out and do a wee bit better in school; or a wee bit better at training or a wee bit better at something.
"It is so simple. All I'm doing is answering a question, which comes so normal and natural. But it's a real proud moment for me to be up here today,” said Jason.
After winning his 11th professional fight against James La Rossa of Mexico on May 7th, Jason is home in Donegal for a short break, but has a busy schedule while here.
"I fly back to LA on Friday and will be back in the gym on Monday. I go back and I'll have a meeting with Golden Boy (his promoter) and we'll sit down and talk about the next venue, opponent, time and date. And we'll be ready for whoever comes along," said Jason.
He is very happy with the way he came through his last fight, his toughest contest so far, but he feels it is another step up the ladder.
"A lot of people doubted me in that fight because of the calibre of opponent I was fighting and all that; and going the 10 rounds for the first time as well. A lot of people thought it was a step too far, too soon. But for me and my team, we had all the confidence in the world. We knew getting into that ring, we were going to come out victorious on the night,” said Jason
"It was a great step up, a great learner. It was a great stage, a great venue. Las Vegas is the professional capital of boxing and it was absolutely unbelievable to get in there and put in a great performance in front of some great fans and a great undercard.
"It was a worldwide stage and to do well on that stage is vital. To get the 10 rounds in as well was vital for me. Money can't buy that type of experience, but it was absolutely unbelievable," said Jason.
Having been an amateur up to two years ago, asked if he will be keeping an eye on the Rio Olympics and the Irish team, he quickly replies: "Without a doubt. If I could put the clock back and change things. Not a hope. I'm absolutely delighted with the progress and where I'm at in my career and in my life right now. It was a tough decision," said Jason, who said that he remains great friends with many of the Irish amateurs. "I will be wishing them all the best and I know for a fact that there will be one gold medal if not more coming back from the Games because amateur boxing has gone from strength to strength and so has professional boxing now in Ireland.”
Asked if he had any contact with former Irish coach, Billy Walsh, since the Wexford man has joined the US amateur team, he said: "I haven't ran into Billy yet in America. You know, Billy is a great man, an absolute gentleman and great at what he does.
“For him to leave Irish boxing was a sad day, without a doubt. I don't think it is going to affect the (Irish) lads in Rio, but it will definitely affect boxing in the future," said Jason, who feels that deep down in Billy Walsh's heart, he would be pulling for the Irish guys, even if they were to meet some his American team.”
For now the graph keeps rising for Jason Quigley and he still has one aim and that is to become world professional champion.
"I'm keeping well. Everything is going great; just turned 25, pushing on now. I'm the perfect age and I have a great two years' experience behind me.
"There is something still burning deep down inside me to be the best and be the champion and to succeed in what I have set out to get.
“Hopefully, the day I will bring back that world title belt to the Diamond will be a proud moment for me. I kicked about in these grounds here (at the school) and I remember me and my father kicking ball on the Diamond back when boxing wasn't even a thought in my mind.
"To bring back a title would be great, not just for me, but for my family but for the town, the county and the country that I grew up and lived in, it would have been absolutely unbelievable," said Jason.