John Duddy punched his way to top... now he's turning his hand to acting
He could have been a contender as Marlon Brando famously mumbled – and he was – but now former boxer John Duddy is punching above his weight in his new career as a stage actor.
Reviewers in New York have been raving about the performances of the heart-throb ex-fighter.
Now the man known as the 'Derry Destroyer' during his fight career is set to make a triumphant return to a home stage after swapping ring prowess for theatrical success.
The former knock-out specialist will be hoping to stun audiences in his new vocation as the male lead in the romantic comedy For Love when he returns home next week.
The play has been going down a storm at its current home off Broadway, achieving sell-out crowds and rave reviews from the likes of the New York Times and Time Out.
Written by Laiosa Sexton, who plays opposite Duddy along with two other Irish actresses, For Love is a modern-day tale of the dating scene in the recession-hit Dublin of today. Fresh from their success Stateside, the crew will be arriving for a tour next week, kicking off with a week-long stint at the Playhouse Theatre in Duddy's native Londonderry as part of the UK City of Culture celebrations.
Duddy and co will also have a six-night stint at the Baby Grand in the Grand Opera House in Belfast, followed by performances in Waterford, Dublin and Galway.
Duddy said he is looking forward to returning home.
"The show is going down really well in New York," he said. "All performances this week have been sold out and reviews have been good."
The play is John's biggest theatre acting role to date and comes after he put the gloves back on recently to star in rock band Bon Jovi's new video for their latest single Because We Can.
Duddy described shooting it as "great craic". "We had three days shooting and two days with the band," he said. "Bon Jovi are huge."
While Duddy may have charmed the critics of the US, he is philosophical about returning to face the notoriously difficult home crowd.
"I had plenty of critics for boxing too and I did that because I love it, same as this," he said. "As long as we do our job and tell the story right the audiences are going to have a riot and a real good time."
And, as he jokingly, added: "Anybody that would give me a bad review, I could just knock 'em out."
For Grand Opera House tickets go to www.goh.co.uk and for the Playhouse go to www.derryplayhouse.co.uk