Ex-boxer Conrad Cummings fighting back after hitting rock bottom

Photo shows Conrad Cummings during one of his clashes with Luke Keeler
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)


It was back in 2019 when it all started to unravel for Conrad Cummings. Turmoil in his personal life had started to impact on his performances inside the ring.

Defeats to Luke Keeler and Danny Dignum that year left his career in tatters. Little did he know that his WBO European title fight against Dignum would be his last.

The date was November 9, 2019. He was only 28 years of age.

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There had been high hopes for Cummings, a five-time Irish amateur champion. He had the pedigree to go far in the paid ranks.

But a career that promised so much eventually fizzled out, with Cummings eventually retiring in 2021.

"Anything that could go wrong did go wrong that year, inside and outside the ring. Everything just piled up and something had to give," Cummings told Belfast Live.

"The personal issues started at the beginning of 2019, and it was reflected in my boxing. I lost the Keeler fight and things outside of the ring got worse.

Photo shows Conrad Cummings who lost twice to Luke Keeler
Conrad Cummings lost twice to Luke Keeler -Credit:Getty Images

"That's no excuse for the defeats to Keeler and Dignum, but I probably shouldn't have been near a ring. My preparation for the Dignum fight was all over the place. I was taking sleeping tablets and drained of energy. The writing was on the wall.

"I was going to the gym and feeling groggy. You couldn't make it up. It was madness fighting Dignum, but the positive is it got me off the drink. I wasn't drinking every day, but I was drinking too much.

"I had various personal issues going on at the time. Relationships with people close to me were breaking down.

"And you can't expect to perform at a high level in sport if you're not looking after your body.

"It was a bad year, and things from top to bottom were going wrong for me. Boxing, relationships, my house, anything you can think of. I couldn't really see any light at the end of the tunnel or any way out of it.

"Then my partner got pregnant and that's when things started to turn around. It happened during the pandemic which actually helped me. My head was up my ass, but I was able to reflect and put on my big boy pants. And I had a child on the way.

"When my daughter was born it was the best day of my life. And now I have two girls. Everything has been better since."

Photo shows Conrad Cummings
Conrad Cummings was a two-time European champion -Credit:INPHO/Brian Little

Cummings' first daughter Bella-Mae was born in the summer of 2020, and he says it was the catalyst to get his life back on track.

"My dad is the best father for me, and still is. So he set the bar very high for me," he added.

"That's what I want to be for my kids. I think I am doing okay. Things couldn't be better. I have the boxing coaching and I am training away myself. I haven't been this fit in years.

"I am healthy and feel good. I am thriving."

Cummings had been immersed in boxing since he was a boy, having first laced up the gloves as a nine-year-old. So when the time came to announce his retirement, it left a huge void in his life.

He said: "I had been preparing for a comeback fight. I had the best camp and felt great. I had also moved up to super-middleweight and things were looking good.

"I had some good fights lined up. There were talks of me fighting for the British, European and Commonwealth titles in what would have been my biggest ever pay day.

"But I remember seeing my daughter Bella-Mae's name on my fight shorts and I just thought I can't do this. It wasn't worth it, I was just done with it."

Photo showing Conrad Cummings
Conrad Cummings was always a popular figure in boxing -Credit:INPHO/Presseye/William Cherry

He added: "It is difficult retiring. Boxing was my whole life. My first fight was when I was nine years old. I grew up inside a ring, fighting for Ireland and winning amateur titles, and then moving into the pro ranks and becoming a two-time European champion.

"I had been a boxer all my life. I was always 'Conrad Cummings the boxer'. Everyone knew me as that.

"Then all of a sudden I was starting all over again. I wasn't the boxer any more. I retired at the end of 2021, and for about a year it was a real struggle. I struggled in my own head.

"I then applied for my coaching licence and started doing one-to-ones, and things have built from there. Everything has got better and better, and I have big plans.

"Previously all I saw was becoming world champion and being rich. Then all of a sudden it is 'what now?'. But I found a way."

Cummings - a protege of Barry McGuigan's old stable which also included Carl Frampton - admits he previously struggled to see a future beyond boxing, but now his life is on an upward trajectory.

"Things are good now. They couldn't be better to be honest," he said.

"I have two little girls - Bella-Mae (3) and Crea (1) - and I have a lovely and very supportive fiancee, Sheree. We are due to get married next year.

"I am also working away with the boxing coaching, from classes to one-to-ones. I also work with the Prince's Trust and the Education Authority. So I am loving life.

"It is very rewarding. A parent came to me to thank me personally for helping her child. It has changed the child's life. It is very rewarding to hear that.

"Other people say the coaching is their favourite part of the week. So that's nice. I have found this new path and I am loving it, thank God.

"I experienced the highs and lows in boxing, but I can appreciate the benefits it brought me. I maybe didn't appreciate it when I was boxing as a pro.

"But as the years go on I am proud of what I achieved. I boxed all over the world, I won the European title twice, I was a five-time Irish amateur champion. So many great memories. I gave it a damn good run.

"As time goes on you begin to appreciate it more. And people still stop me in the street to remind me of times they came to watch me.

"My career did end sooner than I expected, but I am proud. I can show my girls my European belts, and I have walked away from boxing with not too much damage."

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