Ultimate Sports Day

Ultimate Sports Day storms out of the blocks on CBBC

Northern Ireland – Barry McGuigan

Category: CBBC
Barry McGuigan was one of the best boxers of his generation. As an amateur he won a multitude of titles and at the tender age of 17 he took the gold medal at the 1978 Commonwealth Games.

As a professional he won British, European and World Titles. In June 1985 a television audience of 20 million watched Barry McGuigan achieve his dream of becoming Featherweight Champion of the World by defeating Eusebio Pedroza. Voted “Fight of the Year” by the British Boxing Board of Control, McGuigan’s performance also netted him the title of BBC Sports Personality of the Year. McGuigan was voted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2000 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005.

How did you come to be involved in USD? Why did you want to become an USD mentor?

I have been working with children and young people in my boxing academies over the past few years and I get a great deal out of seeing kids reach their full potential and push themselves both in sport and education. When the USD team approached me to do this, it was something I immediately felt passionate about.

Have you done any mentoring/anything similar before?

Along with the work I do with my academies, I also trained my youngest son through his amateur boxing career. He ended up boxing at national title level in England and Ireland. I also help train my professional fighter, Carl Frampton, who is a world class talent.

What was the overall standard of the participants like?

It was incredibly high. There were many kids there who were at a national standard.

Tell us a bit about your team.

They were all brilliant kids, really talented and enthusiastic. They all worked well as a team and were a pleasure to mentor.

If you’d had the chance as a teenager, would you have taken part in USD?

I would have loved to have taken part in USD! It was obvious that the kids felt it was a fantastic experience and they had such fun doing it.

What’s the most important benefit that sport has given you?

Control, discipline and an understanding that to win in sport, or in life, you have to be totally committed.

What kind of opportunity do you think USD affords to the youngsters taking part?

To be seen on national tv, showing off their sporting skills is obviously a huge privilege. But it has also given them a unique experience, an opportunity to test themselves against talented kids from other parts of the UK, and to work as part of a team. I know the experience will stay with them forever.

Did you enjoy the experience?

I loved it. Encouraging and pushing these young people and seeing your efforts make a difference to their performance and their attitude was incredibly gratifying.

Any particular favourite moments or favourite activity/event?

There were so many it would perhaps be unfair to pick one out. I found it very funny when the kids jumped into the water after the canoeing - it must have been freezing in there!

How did you get on with the other mentors? Were you all ferociously competitive? Who was more competitive the young people or the four of you?

All the mentors were very competitive but friendly nonetheless, as were the young athletes.

What do you hope will come from the series for the young people taking part and for viewers at home?

I think the young people will have gained tremendously from their experience in USD. I'm sure we have unearthed some stars of the future. USD is a wonderful format for a tv series and I hope it becomes a regular show so that more young people can experience it in the future.