|Friday, October 3, 1997: SPORT
NO MORE ... Ireland's most successful professional boxer, Steve Collins, wipes away a tear as he announces his retirement from the sport at the British Boxing Awards in London yesterday.
FRONT HOME FINANCE ·FOREIGN-Features- Opinion LETTERS
SPORT Friday, October 3, 1997
I Celtic Warrior steps away from the fray
By Sean Kilfeather
BOXING: STEVE COLLINS, Ireland's most successful professional boxer, yesterday announced his retirement from the ring. The announcement, at a boxing awards ceremony in London, came only 24 hours after Collins's world super middleweight title defence, scheduled for next Saturday week, was cancelled because of a leg injury.
Collins was tearful on announcing his decision, but sources within boxing are already predicting that when he sheds his present disappointments the very strong call of the gym and physical combat might cause a change of mind.
The self-styled 'Celtic Warrior', who had been training in the United States for his scheduled defence against Joe Calzaghe from W] ales in Sheffield on October lth , had developed an abscess on his right leg and had been advised
by his doctor to withdraw from the bout. That medical advice had been conveyed offici ally to the World
Boxing Organisation (WBO) and to the fight promoter, Frank Warren, who responded by calling a press conference in London to announce that Collins had "been stripped" of the title and that Calzaghe and Chris Eubank would
be matched for the "vacant title" with the winner becoming the new WBO champion. This was later contradicted by
the WBO, with an announcement that Collins would retain the title and would defend it against the winner of the "interim title" fight between Calzaghe and Eubank. Collins's surprise announcement would appear to give that
fight official world title status. Thus has ended (for the moment at least) a career which was never short of either success or controversy. As an amateur Collins had never made a great impact but won the Irish amateur middleweight title in 1986. The following year he surprised many when, having gone to the United States with an amateur international side, he failed to join the party when the time came to come home. He stayed on in the United
Slates with a view to pursuing a professional boxing career. Collins joined the famous Petronelli brothers' gym in Brockton, near Boston, and put a string of undistinguished victories behind him before winning the Irish middleweight title by beating Sammy Storey on St Patrick's Day in Boston in 1988. He won the US middleweight
title in 1989 but his first big break came when he fought Mike McCallum, then regarded as the best "pound for pound" boxer in the world, for the world middleweight title. Collins went the full distance with McCallum, but suffered his first professional defeat. A respectful McCallum said he had no intention of taking on Collins
on again. "I am sure that one day he will be champion but it won't be at my expense." Collins made two other unsuccessful attempts to win a major middleweight title. He was beaten by Reggie Johnson in New Jersey
in a WBA world title bout and lost to Sumbu Kalambay in Italy in a European title attempt. These bouts had earned him a reputation for being tough and durable and difficult to beat. Success finally came his way when he beat Chris Pyatt for the vacant WBO middleweight title on a stoppage in May of 1994. Perhaps the most remarkable
fight of his career was in the Green Glens Arena in Millstreet in March 1995 when he challenged the then WBO super middleweight champion , Chris Eubank. The venue had been described on British television as an old cow
shed but that was not the only controversy in the run-up to the fight. A "head-to-head" press conference was staged in Dublin and Collins attempted to steal Eubank's thunder. Eubank has always promoted himself as being a
bit of a dandy, sporting high fashion suits, jodhpurs, a silver topped cane and a monocle. Collins, not to be outdone,
turned up in a Rolls Royce, dressed in Donegal tweeds. He was escorting, or being escorted by, an Irish wolfhound.
Collins then addressed the conference in Irish and, switching to English, accused Eubank of being a fraud and of betraying his Afro- Caribbean roots. Eubank was furious, and after heated exchanges he stormed out. As he left Jurys Hotel the Lord Mayor of Dublin, John Gormley, offered to take him on a tour of the city. Eubank replied: "Fuck the city. Fuck the city," and kept moving in the general direction of the airport. Better, or worse, was to follow. Collins announced on the eve of the fight in Millstreet that he had employed" a hypnotist, Tony Quinn, to help him to prepare. He said he would be under hypnosis during the fight and that he would
feel no pain and would not bleed. Eubank fell for what was, in retrospect, a mischievous ruse and
threatened to pull out. He was persuaded to go on with the fight , however, but he had lost a psychological
battle and although he put Collins on the floor midway through the fight , he lost the title on a points decision. A rematch was soon put together, at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Collins won on a split decision. The Irishman then defended the title in Dublin against Cornelius Carr. He went back to Millstreet and was successful against Neville
Brown, and successfully defended his title against Nigel Benn twice. He beat the Frenchman, Frederic Sellier in February of this year. His last fight was against Craig Cummings in July when the bout was stopped in round three.
Collins in Dublin
STEVE Collins was relaxed and content when he returned to Dublin last night. There was a hint that there might be
one final fling for the retired boxer — but only against the American Roy Jones . "That is not on. I spoke to all his people and he was not interested in fighting me. I would not be interested in fighting anybody else so this is truly the end," he said. "I want everybody to know that I am deeply grateful for the career I have had in boxing and
I intend to put a lot back into the sport because I believe that there are dozens and dozens of young lads all over Ireland who could achieve what I have achieved and I intend to have them do that ," he said. He will meet the press in Dublin today. Celtic Warrior
Irish official incurs
Thursday, November 20, 1997:HOME NEWS
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Collins paid £360,000 to be his mentor
Boxer Steve Collins agreed in the High Court yesterday that he had paid £360,000 for the services of health adviser Mr Tany Quinn, following his two world title fights. Mr Quinn was mentor to Collins for his contests.
Yesterday was the 19th day of the action by promoter Mr Barry Heam and his company, Matchroom Boxing Ltd, against Mr Collins, of Pine House, Navan Road, Dublin, for alleged breach of contract. The claim is denied.
Cross-examined by Mr Rory Brady SC yesterday, Mr Collins said Mr Heam had failed in his job as a manager for a variety of reasons.
He would not describe what Mr Heam did to him as bad, Mr Collins said. It was a failure to fulfil his duties and obligations as a manager. After his world super-middleweight fight with Chris Eubank in Millstreet, Co Cork, Mr Collins said he had had enough of Mr Heam, and