SPORTS AWARDS: Hall of Fame - Eamonn Loughran (boxing)
Eamonn Loughran earned a richly-deserved standing ovation as he became the latest star inducted into Ballymena’s Sporting Hall of Fame.
The former world champion boxer was genuinely moved by the ovation he received as he looked back on some of the highlights of his glittering career.
“To be able to look back and say ‘ this is what I did in my sporting career’ is a fantastic feeling - especially now as you get older.
“The feeling of being a world champion is a wonderful feeling.”
Eamonn recalled his formative years with All Saints Boxing Club, where he first stepped into the ring, stating: “I owe them everything - without them I would not have had a professional career.
“There was just something within me that wanted to box - my first experience at All Saints was being put in the ring with older boys at and getting a thumping but I kept coming back.”
Recalling the night he clinched the WBO world welterweight title by beating American Lorenzo Smith at the King’s Hall, Eamonn said: “It was that wee bit special having all my family there and looking round the hall, all I could notice were people from Ballymena.
“To see the tears in my father’s eyes was an amazing feeling.”
Eamonn also lifted the lid on his decision to quit the sport at a relatively young age.
“I found it difficult to be away from my family - I was the type of person who had to get away to focus on my training.
“When I retired there was a touch of sadness but at the same time there was a relief, a weight lifted off me - the pressure had gone and I could enjoy life as a family man.
“And even though I had stopped boxing, the memories are forever.
“There’s no feeling like playing your sport but I have replaced it with watching my children and other people take part,” added Eamonn, whose own sporting interest today are golf and running.