Boxer Michael Conlan: With two big fights coming up, I'm a nine or 10 in fitness

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Belfast boxer, Michael Conlan

Michael Conlan makes his long-awaited homecoming at the Belfast SSE Arena on Saturday June 30 Picture: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Gail Bell

1. Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

I'm up at 8am and then I'll check my phone and emails, get ready and bring my daughter to creche. I'll come back home and have a cuppa (tea) and some breakfast, then head to training.

2. What might you eat in a typical working day for…

Breakfast? For breakfast, I'll have three eggs, scrambled, eaten with smoked salmon. It depends on whether I'm training or not, but I do love a good fry up.

Lunch? Lunch will likely be a protein shake and some chicken.

Evening meal? For my evening meal, I'll have steak and sweet potatoes.

3. Is nutrition important to you?

Yes, I'm a boxer, so I need to eat healthy and put the right foods into my body. I have to be careful to bring my body down to the correct fight weight and still have energy for training and competing, so balancing my nutrition plays a big part in my life, although I'm not a calorie counter.

4. Best meal ever?

Steak, chips and vegetables with lots of peppered sauce. I also love pancakes at the moment, and General Merchants cafe on the Ormeau Road in Belfast serve up some great ones. They have to be sweet pancakes, though; I'm not a fan of the savoury ones.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Yes, I love chocolate and pizza, so they're both a guilty pleasure for me.

6. Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

I diet most of the year round because of what I do; it's tough but you have to stay disciplined.

7. Do you take health supplements?

Yes I take a lot of vitamins and fish oils.

8. How do you relax?

My favourite way to relax is with my three year-old daughter, Luisne, who loves to watch Disney movies. We watch them together on the sofa at home and it's lovely spending time with her that way. It doesn't really matter what movie might be on the screen – her favourite Disney characters change every week.

9. Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple, although not before a match. Having said that, I'm more or less teetotal because of my career. Over the course of a year I would have no more than seven or eight nights out drinking – I don't drink in the house. On the occasions I do have a drink, I'll choose cider or wine, but these days I prefer a movie and pizza at home.

10. Stairs or lift?

Oh, that would be the lift – I train hard enough, ha ha.

11. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I train twice a day, every day. In the morning, I will do either a strength and conditioning session or a running session, then in the evening, it will either be a bags/pads or a sparring session.

12. Best tip for everyday fitness?

Go walking or running. You can easily find time for that, no matter what your job is or where you are.

13. On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are; how fit would you like to be?

I think I'm a nine or 10 at the moment because I have big fights coming up, one in New York's Madison Square Garden this weekend (Saturday May 12) and then a big homecoming one at the SSE Arena in Belfast on June 30. If you had asked me this a while back, I might have said a six but when I'm in training mode – which is almost all year round – I'm generally a 10.

14. Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

I have a personal physio who gives me sports massages, so that is a type of alternative therapy. I have also had reflexology and 'cupping' which is favoured now by a lot of different athletes. This involves having hot suction cups applied to the skin for several minutes, leaving what looks like love bites on the skin – they don't look too pretty. The idea is that the sucked air helps the muscles by pulling them and lifting them. I think it's good – and not too painful.

15. Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

I think I was in P6 in primary school when I lost in sports day and I cried my eyes out. I was pretty much involved in everything going when it came to school sports though, and when others were hiding, trying to get out of the PE class, I was loving every minute. Sadly, there was no boxing class, but after school I went boxing; I started at the age of seven.

16. Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

I watched a documentary called Before The Flood presented by Leonardo DiCaprio and it definitely had an impact on my lifestyle. It was all about climate change and the effect of methane gas produced by cows. After watching it, I cut down on red meat.

17. Best health advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

Just be healthy in general, as you don't have to be a sports person to be healthy. Eat normally, but have a treat now and again. Drink plenty of water and don't eat loads of takeaways.

18. Who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness / attitude to life?

I would love to emulate Sugar Ray Leonard or my father. Sugar Ray for his boxing skills and my father for being a great man.

19. What time do you get to bed normally and do you think you get enough sleep?

I normally get tonnes – I go to bed at around 11 and sleep to 8am, so more than enough.

20. Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

Yes, I try to, especially because of the sport I'm in. I'm always aware that boxing can cause premature death, so the dangers of what I do are never far from my mind, particularly now that I have a young child. I'm always aware of what's going on and the safety precautions. I have a time limit in my head about when to stop.

:: Michael Conlan takes on Spaniard Ibon Larrinaga at Madison Square Garden, New York, on Saturday; his Belfast homecoming fight is on June 30.


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