Video: Comedians ready to rumble ahead of boxing event in aid of children’s cancer charity

This year’s event is in aid of the Belfast Children’s Cancer Unity Charity and is being streamed for those who missed out on tickets

Comedians during a press conference ahead of the Belfast Comedians charity boxing event at the Ulster Hall, Belfast on 26 June 2024.
Comedians during a press conference ahead of the Belfast Comedians charity boxing event at the Ulster Hall, Belfast on 26 June 2024. PICTURE COLM LENAGHAN

BELFAST has become the spiritual home of boxing down the years, from Hugh Russell to Anto Cacace, but recently the city has taken to a different form of the sport.

For the last two years, local comedians have been training and trash-talking in the name of charity with the first edition of the Belfast Comedians Charity Boxing event held in the Ulster Hall last year.

This year’s fight night has a different edge to it according to a lot of the fighters. There’s more on the line, more pride at stake and more money to raise for charity.

One of the headline fights of this year’s bill will be Holywood’s Shane Todd taking on fellow stand-up Sean Hegarty, who were both mismatched in last year’s event. Hegarty hopes to put the record straight against Todd on June 26.

“I think after last year we had a bit of a chat. I fought somebody who was a couple of weight divisions above me, last year Shane fought somebody that was probably a weight division below him,” said Hegarty, who along with his wife and podcasting co-host, Diona Doherty, are on this year’s bill.

“I think now we’re quite similar, we’re a lot closer if not nothing else so we kind of had a chat, like ‘We seem to be the two fittest comedians on the bill, let’s get together and give the people what they want’.

“I feel the best I’ve ever felt, to be honest... I turned 40 there in December and I almost got to the point in my life where I need to make some drastic changes here and one of them was fitness.

“From October, I was like, ‘I don’t want to wait until my actual birthday’. It’s almost like people going ‘Oh I’ll start on Monday, the diet starts Monday’, things like that so I was like ‘Do you know what? It’s gonna start here and it’s gonna start right now’.

“I just got weights for my bedroom and just started lifting weights and it just went on from there, I knew the boxing was going to come around eventually and I thought if I could get a head start, it would make things even more in my favour come fight night.”

Todd, however, insisted that he hasn’t lifted a finger for the fight, and decided to brush off the ‘rumours’ of his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

“Listen, that’s all rumour. I have not really been training for this, I’m gonna wing it. I decided not to really train or take this seriously at all,” he said, with a wry smile.

“Yes there’s rumours of steroid use, PEDs and all that kind of thing, but this is not a sanctioned fight so they don’t do drug tests, which is irrelevant to me but it’s good for some people.

“When you’re on my level, there’s no such thing as training, there’s no such thing as a practice, there’s just being in the moment, so when I’m in the gym, I’m gonna be the exact same in the Ulster Hall.”

Another eagerly anticipated battle is between Q Radio breakfast show hosts Connor Brennan and Andrew Ryan, both of whom seem confident of their chances on June 26.

Andrew’s team is training with boxing coach Sean McComb.

Ryan said: “Sean McComb has said that he has never seen somebody as naturally gifted with abilities, but he says I’m awful.

“Training camp’s been difficult, I’ve a lot of commitments outside of the ring but to say I’ve been told to slow down but apparently I’ve been doing too much, I’ve lost eight per cent body fat.”

Ryan said that he will be taking a week off in Spain to “meet with his coaches and psychologists” before embarking on a 20-day camp in the run-in to the fight.

Brennan, who is seven years Ryan’s junior, believes that his dedication to training will win out on the night.

“I don’t believe Andrew’s taking it as seriously as what he would tell you, I know for me, it has taken over my life,” said Brennan, who was a late addition to the bill after calling Andrew out on the radio.

“I think Andrew knows that, every now and again he’s telling me ‘Why don’t you take a week off? Eat this fifteen... go home, have a Chinese, relax’... I think Andrew’s worried.”

Ryan acknowledged the difference in age but doesn’t think that that will play a factor in the outcome of the fight.

He said: “Okay there’s seven years of a difference, I’m older, I’m wiser, but I have a past.”

This was met with howls of laughter from red teammate Shane Todd and the crowd at the Limelight nightclub in Belfast, which had more of a small-crowd comedy performance atmosphere than a pre-fight press conference.

Ryan continued: “I grew up on the streets of Cork, you know there’s a reason why I had to leave Cork... see those gloves... wasn’t wearing ‘em.”

The event will be in aid of The Children’s Cancer Unit Charity, with all profits going to help support children who use the Cancer Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Charity representative Sinead Lynch said: “It’s going to mean so much for ourselves. I mean every year in Northern Ireland 60 to 70 children get diagnosed and all of those children have to travel to Belfast to get treatment.

“We’re here to support that unit, whether that’s through specialised staff support, home comforts for the families or equipment, so everything is 100% - o this is going to make a huge difference.”

The event will include some of the biggest comedians in Northern Ireland, including Colin Geddis, Paddy McDonnell, Diona Doherty, Micky Bartlett and others.

Tickets are no longer available but the event will be filmed and a pay-per-view option is available for those who want to watch and contribute to the cause.