Helping you get through tough times

Boxing and the art of self-belief

“A champion shows who he is by what he does when he’s tested. When a person gets up and says ‘I can still do it’, he’s a champion.” – Evander Holyfield

The walls are covered in photos of boxing heroes, of victories, of trophies and fights that have gone down in history. Punching bags and skipping ropes lie in wait. In the centre of the room stands the ring, with it’s blue and red ropes taught and ready for the next round. It’s almost silent, but for the hum of expectation from the spectators.

Enter the champions

The doors open, but instead of opponents about to fight, in comes thirty or so kids, about to play. Suddenly the room is full of noise, laughing and fun, as they pile in to the ring with over-sized gloves, and instructors begin to teach them to jump, skip, defend and jab.

They’re all taking part in Startbox, a programme developed and run by the Irish Amateur Boxing Association(IABA) and Dublin City Council, hosted by the Aviva Stadium. It is headed up by boxing legend and Olympic champion Michael Carruth, and run by a team of boxers of all ages and titles, from Tommy Ahern to current national Amateur Senior Champion Eric Donovan.

They all share the aim of giving young people, from 10 to 21, the chance to give beginner’s non-contact boxing a go, and of finding a new generation of talented, determined athletes to represent Ireland.

Learning the values

Talking with Michael, he says that through working with schools, community groups and youth clubs around Dublin, Startbox, and the more advanced Silver and Gold programmes, reach many young people who might not ordinarily get the opportunity to do something like this. “There’s a lot of kids who’d be at risk”, he explains, going on to describe, with a clear passion, the benefits that getting involved in boxing can bring to someone’s life.

Though for a lot of the young people taking part in Startbox, right now it’s mainly about fun and exercise, as people progress on to amateur status, discipline, respect for your opponent and dedication are key, and these values that the IABA are trying to instil in young boxers.In terms of mental health, these can all be really helpful skills, especially in terms of setting goals and keeping your head and body fit.


But more than anything, from talking to people at Startbox, it seems that boxing really is all about self-belief. After all, you don’t get in the ring to fight unless you believe you can win. You have to believe you can succeed again when you’ve been defeated. For Michael, he says he has always believed he could be a champion, and whether or not the young people who come to Startbox keep boxing, he thinks that it something the sport can give them.

We’re not saying that putting the gloves on is the right path for everyone. For us at, having belief in yourself is what’s really important, and it’s fantastic to see the IABA giving that belief to people with the help of Dublin City Council and the Aviva.

You might not always feel like a champion when things are tough, but having the confidence to know that you what you are capable of, what you have the power to rise to, and most importantly, that you can get up when you get knocked down is worth a lot. Like Muhammed Ali said, “only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.”

Getting up when you’re down

Whatever proverbial ring you’re stepping into, your best asset is to know that you can win. Getting involved in something like boxing that lets you focus and build those skills can be really helpful, especially if you haven’t found a way to do that yet. Check out the IABA website for more info on Startbox and other programmes, and for more information on self-belief, take a look at minding your mental health.

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