Sport is back on the menu for pro-boxer Cathy McAleer from Belfast with her next bout now set for September.
McAleer has been making good use of the lockdown; staying sharp and looking for ways to use her platform as Northern Ireland’s only professional female boxer. She was announced last week as the new ambassador for Street Soccer NI.
The combination might seem strange until you remember McAleer’s varied sports career included a spell playing youth soccer and later Gaelic Football with County Down. Now making a name for herself as one of the few females in the pro-boxing game, she has also held world titles in Karate and Kickboxing.
McAleer, known as ‘Fighting Mac’ around the gyms of Belfast, was all set for an exciting 2020 before the COVID19 lockdown. Just weeks before the virus hit, she announced a new manager and scooped up a major sponsor in car insurance company its4women.
Manager Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, secured a 3-fight deal for her with all bouts set for Aston Villa in England. Her coach John Breen has trained five world champions, although she is the first woman to work with him at this elite level.
She fought one of those three, winning in February but the rest were postponed. Now the English fights are set again after the strange hiatus caused by the Coronavirus. McAleer says: “I’ve been training hard all the time, keeping my routine, and waiting for news.”
In the meantime, she’s focusing on working with Street Soccer NI over the summer. “I loved soccer and team sports before I changed to martial arts and boxing. Sport is a powerful tool and it can help so many with mental health, routine, build self-esteem and confidence,” she says.
Her own life has been defined by sport between competing in a range of martial arts and team sports, and now running her own business MacFit. During the lockdown like many trainers, she has been communicating by Zoom and Instagram video with her clients, many of them young children.
So for Street Soccer NI boss Justin Mintin, choosing to work with her was a no-brainer. The charity is a little different in that they do not address housing directly. They use sport to give people some of the soft skills McAleer says are so important.
Mintin says: “I know Cathy will particularly inspire our female players to think outside the box, dream big and know anything is possible for them with some hard work and the right attitude; and we at Street Soccer NI are here to help them on their way to achieving those dreams.”
She has certainly done that in her own life, moving into pro-boxing at 40 when most athletes would be hanging up their gloves. McAleer says there is something about sport which won’t let her go, and as long as people keep coming to see her box, she will keep going.
This gives her a platform which many new boxers would not have, and she is not shy in taking advantage of this.
“Within Northern Ireland we have so many areas that need help and support in the local community with homelessness, mental health, suicide and addictions. I believe sport can help assist and reduce these cases fast and help so many who really need a routine and sense of belonging,” she says.
Updates on McAleer’s next bouts on her social media channels:
@cathymcaleer on Instagram and @cathymcaleer on Twitter