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Memories of Daniel Day-Lewis' visit to west Belfast as he announced his retirement from acting

Daniel Day Lewis has announced he is to retire from acting

AN Oscar-winning actor known for his meticulous preparation for a movie, a Belfast boxing coach has recalled how two decades ago Daniel Day Lewis visited his gym to train for his next starring role.

Put through his paces by former Irish Olympic coach Michael Hawkins and former Irish senior champion Damien Denny at the Holy Trinity boxing club in Turf Lodge, Day Lewis was getting a taste of the sport for his part in 'The Boxer'.

His attention to detail for film roles has seen the Oscar winner become regarded as one of Hollywood's hottest properties.

But that soon will come to an end after 60 year-old Day Lewis announced he is to quit acting.

The only man to have won three best actor Oscars, he gave no reason for his decision, calling it "private" and commenting that he was "immensely grateful to all of his collaborators and audiences over the many years".

As the news spread yesterday, those who were lucky to meet him during his Belfast visit said his retirement "will be a loss", but "like any good boxer, it might be hard to keep him down".

Born in Britain and holding dual Anglo-Irish citizenship, he made his screen debut in Sunday Bloody Sunday in 1971 before moving on to star in a number of memorable roles.

 

His 46-year career saw him win three best actor Oscars, for playing wheelchair-bound Christy Brown in 'My Left Foot', oil man Daniel Plainview in 'There Will Be Blood' and his leading role in Steven Spielberg's 'Lincoln'.

The actor spends much of his time living on a 100-acre farm in Wicklow and regards the Freedom of Wicklow, which he received in 2009, as one of his greatest achievements.

Known as a "method master", he learned Czech for his part in The Unbearable Lightness Of Being, sharpened knives between takes to capture the menace of his character in Gangs Of New York and spent weeks living in a wheelchair for his role in 'My Left Foot'.

For his role in the 'The Boxer', he visited the Holy Trinity boxing club in Belfast in 1997.

He had already spent six months learning boxing skills in Los Angeles and Ireland with both former world champion Barry McGuigan and ex-Irish title-holder Micky Tohill.

Even after the rigorous two-hour training stint at the gym, he continued his exercise routine along with boxers Damaen Kelly, Brian Magee and Eddie Fisher.

Mr Hawkins last night recalled the actor's visit to the club, in which he took Day Lewis for a session on the boxing pads.

"We had a call to say that Damien Denny was bringing Daniel Day Lewis to the club, it was all supposed to be hush-hush," he said.

"But of course, we had the place packed with people.

"He did a good session when he was here, it was clear he wanted to learn and wanted to do it right. Everyone knows he always wants to do properly and you could tell he wanted to look the part of a boxer.

"It's difficult to portray a boxer if you don't know what you're doing, but he wanted to do it right. It was great to have him at the club, to get that bit of recognition too.

"His retirement will be a loss, but like any good boxer, it might be hard to keep him down."

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