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Cathy McAleer: Coronavirus fight is the biggest of all our lives and we have to pull together to win



Cathy McAleer

Cathy McAleer

Cathy McAleer

Cathy McAleer

BBC Northern Ireland

Cathy McAleer

We are asking our sporting personalities how they are dealing with action coming to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic and how it has affected their daily lives.

Today, we speak to Northern Ireland's only professional female boxer Cathy McAleer.

Q: How are you keeping?

A: I am keeping well under the circumstances. I am normally so active and busy in my daily life. My day normally kicks off at 5.30am with running and then at the boxing club five evenings a week so I was gutted to be told to stay at home. I was in the midst of training for a big fight on April 10 at Aston Villa FC in Birmingham when the lockdown news emerged. Once I was back home, I realised this unprecedented situation was outside of my control. This is not just a local problem. The whole world is in the same fight. Coronavirus is the biggest and most important fight of anyone's life and we all need to pull together to win this one.

Q: How have you been affected?

A: I am self-employed. My core businesses, Mac Fit and Mac Beauty, are closed and my two karate schools have stopped. When I am not fighting, I don't get an income, so this situation is having a massive financial impact. However, I am very lucky to have a great sponsor, online car insurance brand Its4women, who have stuck by me. I have been running a few online fitness classes through Zoom. In addition, I run Fighting Fit Fridays for my sponsor and it is proving very popular with followers. I also delivered a team bonding session with Citibank staff online. I don't like to see anyone disappointed. When a child's birthday party was cancelled, I offered to take the activities online, creating a fun party. I have also helped small businesses with communication to spread awareness of deliveries to older people.

On a personal note, I've kept in close contact with my mother and father as they are both at high risk. Dad recently finished chemotherapy treatment. Mum had two health scares last year and a knee replacement just over four weeks ago. Making sure they self-isolate and keep mentally upbeat at the same time is critical.

Q: How are you keeping fit?

A: I am lucky. I ran Virgin Active for 16 years and have a BA Hons degree in sports marketing, so I'm experienced in how to stay physically fit. I have used my time wisely and thankfully I have a studio gym at my house to maintain fitness.

Q: How are you keeping up morale?

A: I have a positive outlook on life and I'm always focusing on my clients, some of whom have mental health concerns and other ailments. It's my job to encourage and motivate others. I have become very strong at making a positive difference in people's lives.

Q: Where are you drawing your personal strength from now?

A: I have had a number of setbacks over the last year including a Commonwealth title fight that was cancelled three times after long training camps. I managed to keep myself focused and continued on the search to find the right manager and promoter who would get me the fights I needed. I finally signed with an amazing and experienced manager, Kellie Maloney, who has put a top team and plan in place. I was so excited about my scheduled April 10 fight. I see this as another hurdle that won't stop me from achieving my goal.

Q: Can you recommend a book, film or box set that stay at home sports fans might enjoy?

A: I rarely watch TV and my books are all about sports and fitness and technically orientated, but I do recommend and encourage people to stay active and do at least 30-40 minutes of exercises at home every day.

Q: What life lessons are you learning from this?

A: Don't take things for granted. Never assume anything. Take care of your health and nutrition. Stay close to friends and family and keep communication strong. Have some savings for a rainy day. Have the ability to take things on the chin and start again. You can always rebuild; you do more harm dwelling and not progressing.

Q: What's the first thing you will do when this is over?

A: I will meet up with family and friends for a meal, and I then plan to get straight back into my training and focus on my goal to win a world title in professional boxing. I will show appreciation to all clients and friends that have stuck by me and I will rebuild my business. I am using the downtime wisely and will be ready to pick up once it is safe.

Q: What is your message to sports fans?

A: Stay home, stay active and set yourself a daily/weekly schedule. Tick those tasks off as you complete them. Routine and progression will help keep you focused. The community really comes together and fights during a crisis such as this. I feel it is like the old times when people actually made time to speak to each other, showed respect and sincerity. The world has become so social media oriented, real communication and friendship often gets lost. It is so important to keep communication open and think about neighbours, friends and family.

Belfast Telegraph