Many people looking at the glitz and the glamour from the MGM Boxing arena or Madison Square Gardens or the numerous ‘Face Off’s’ associate the life of a boxer with all the trappings of wealth and fame.
But very few realise the pure hard work and the daily grind that goes into this sport.
NABF champion boxer Jason Quigley was born on the Main Street of Donegal Town in a one-bedroomed apartment above what was then the Star Bar and throughout the years has battled all the obstacles to become one of the top boxers in the world in his weight.
Speaking on a one-to-one basis with the Democrat he recalls those early days: “I have nothing but happy memories of those days - the hustle and bustle of the Main Street was great and every moment up at the Glebe School in the town stirs up great memories.
“We eventually moved up to Laghey to a larger house just beside St. Eunan’s National School and like every young fella I was into practically every sport. I played a bit of everything, hurling, tennis, Gaelic, soccer and of course,boxing.
“Sooner or later I knew I had to make the decision to concentrate fully on either my boxing or football. I took the summer off from boxing and played football, but the minute I walked back into the boxing gym after the summer break and put on the gloves I knew I had made my mind up: “From there on I dedicated my life to boxing.”
Jason's father Conor was an accomplished boxer and taught the young Quigley everything there was to know in the early days. “He knew the game and supported me all the way. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”
As his amateur career progressed, he needed to be based in Dublin in the high-performance unit. This collided with Jason's last year in secondary school and he had to make the decision - leave school to focus solely on his boxing or stay in school and keep boxing as a hobby.
“Keeping boxing as a hobby wasn't an option in my head as I knew by then I wanted to be world professional champion,” he explained.
“I spoke to my parents and to the school and they granted me permission to attend classes on a Monday.”
Jason would gather his week's homework and then go to train Tuesday to Friday in Dublin with the high-performance Unit.
“I managed to get a good Leaving Cert after all that in 2010.”
Jason’s boxing career is well documented and rather than dwell further on it we focused on his personal life and his aspirations.
“I had been at school with a young lady called April McManus. I suppose I always had my eye on her but we didn't start our relationship until the summer of 2013. April has a little daughter, Sierra and we are like three peas in a pod - they are the love of my life.”
Even though he was a member of the Irish Olympic squad with a realistic chance of a medal, he turned professional and moved to Los Angeles as Jason and April continued their relationship long distance.
He said: “ LA was great in the beginning, the sun was always shining.The beach was on my doorstep, I had a car of my dreams, lovely apartment overlooking the Marina next to Venice Beach but at the same time I was homesick.
“You don’t really have friends in a situation like that. You have a lot of acquaintances. It was a very lonely existence at the time.”
Jason injured his hand in what doctors called a 1 in 10 million injury during a fight in March 2017. He sustained the injury in the second round and fought another 8 rounds to win the NABF middleweight title.
This injury resulted in surgery and a year long lay off. Jason found the lay off extremely difficult, more so mentally than physically, but it allowed him to re-evaluate life and he made the decision to relocate closer to home by basing himself in Sheffield.
For April, that move has made life easier all round.
“Jason is much happier and the commute from Donegal to Sheffield is much easier,” she said.
“He travels home every second week and Sierra and I visit Sheffield during all her school holidays.”
Jason Quigley is someone who always has a smile on his face. He just radiates contentment and puts a lot down to the fact he doesn’t drink alcohol.
“I’ve never tasted a pint in my life apart from tasting a bit of whiskey or Bailey’s,” he said.
“Every Christmas I’ll have a wee rum to remember my grandfather who passed away six years ago.
“There are a lot of reasons – personal reasons. I’ve seen alcoholism in my family. It’s not a nice thing to have in a family or in an environment, but these things happen and they mould us into people.
“This is something that probably affects every family in Ireland and I congratulate every person who has conquered it. They have changed their lives around and also the lives of their families.
“My own father was developing a problem but he caught it and now hasn’t had a drink in over 15 years. I have so much admiration for him.
“I have friends who go out and I hear people sitting down for a pint and going ‘Jeez – another two or three and I’ll be dead on,’ and I’m thinking “First of all – you’re spending money to buy it, you don’t like it, you’ll end up doing something you’ll regret in the morning.”
Jason is now taking a break over Christmas but at the same time training away. “I’m hoping for a good fight in early 2019.
“There is nothing fixed yet but wouldn’t it be great if it were at home and in March. Don’t mention Patrick’s Day” he joked.
Without a doubt, Jason Quigley can look forward to a very bright and happy future - another great ambassador for Donegal.