JP Hale is fast working his way through his six sporting dreams

·3-min read
JP Hale hopes to extend Team Northern Ireland's proud boxing heritage at the Commonwealth Games (AAPIMAGE via Reuters Connect)

By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat

Pinned to the back of JP Hale's father's bedroom door are a list of six sporting dreams. After the Commonwealth Games this summer, Team Northern Ireland boxer JP Hale will have ticked off four of them.

Having already claimed a national title and competed at the European and World Championships, the 21-year-old is edging ever closer to completing his personal holy grail.

“It feels unreal,” said Hale.

“On the back of my dad’s bedroom door is a list of all the things I want to do. I wrote them down four years ago and I’m achieving them.

“The Commonwealth games was one of them, so it means a lot. I’ve ticked them all off in order so far.”

A member of Star Boxing Club in New Lodge, Belfast, Hale was first ushered towards the sport by his father, a former youth boxer.

According to Hale, however, it was his lack of physical activity as a child which prompted his fatherto take him to a gym for the first time.

“I was playing the PlayStation too much and he wanted me to be doing something,” he joked.

“Boxing has always been in the family, so he took me down to the club when I was seven and I’ve just loved it ever since.”

With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Hale hopes sharing his story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.

Hale beat the number three seed on his way to the quarterfinals of May’s European Championships before losing to eventual gold medallist, Artush Gomtsyan.

Ahead of Birmingham, he believes he is improving with each fight and is looking forward to renewing past rivalries this summer.

“Each experience gives you confidence,” he explained.

“Some boxers out there just aren’t confident in themselves but just being at the Europeans and Worlds you build up what you know.

“I’m confident going into these Commonwealth Games because I’ve fought most of the countries that will be there.

“My losses have helped me most because I watch them back more than my wins.

“The one in the Worlds in Serbia really made me understand what I need to do around footwork, and I picked that up in the Europeans with a good jab distance, everything was right.”

This summer, Team Northern Ireland, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will compromise over 100 athletes, and having secured his place on the squad, Hale is looking for medal success.

Looking further ahead, Hale is relishing the chance to forge new memories in his country’s proud boxing history, which he hopes will culminate with two final ticks on his list of sporting aspirations.

“There’s literally boxing clubs down every street,” he said.

“There are loads of history around it and I think that is what makes it so popular. I want to add to that and be known in Belfast as one of the boxers and get my name out there even more.

“I’m looking forward to going pro whenever I’m ready.

“That and the Olympics, they’re the two main goals now.”

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