Love the Darts: Spike O'Sullivan

By Paul Woodage 17/01/2021

A night at the darts has become increasingly popular for many celebrities and sports personalities including former world champion boxer, Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan.

The Celtic Warrior boasts an impressive record of thirty wins, twenty-one by knockout. His only four defeats in a professional career spanning twelve years have all been inflicted by former or future World Champions. His finest hour came in July 2014 when he appeared on the David Haye v Dereck Chisora undercard at Upton Park winning the WBO International Middleweight Champion by defeating Matthew Hall.

Raised in a rough area of Cork called Mahon, O’Sullivan soon found his calling and excelled in the ring winning multiple regional middleweight championships. The fighting Irishman is a keen darts fan and regularly enjoys tuning in to watch. The love affair with the arrows began eleven years ago when Gary began watching with his father in law.

“We always used to sit and watch the big tournaments together, I was immediately hooked by the razzmatazz of it all, love the walk-ons and massively impressed by the skill and accuracy of the players”, O’Sullivan explains.

“Mahon is a real working class area of Cork.  There are fewer opportunities so you have to find something you enjoy and put your heart and soul into it. There are many parallels between boxing and darts, self confidence and belief is huge in any individual sport. You need to be fully focused at all times”.
 

O’Sullivan has plied his skills at some of the biggest venues on the planet and one day hopes to visit the iconic homes of darts.

“I have been fortunate enough to fight at Madison Square Garden, Wembley Arena and the O2 which were amazing experiences. Never been to Ally Pally but I did take part in a Prizefighter tournament in the Winter Gardens so one day I will get to watch darts in both”

However, the Corkonian is a regular visitor to the Grand Prix of Darts in Dublin as his training camp is based in the City West Hotel and he always finds time to pop in and catch some matches when the event is on.

“It’s been my home for about eight years now and I am usually there when the tournament is on so it’s a welcomed break. I know Simon Whitlock and Michael van Gerwen personally so I always manage to catch up with them each year and a few others too”

It’s fair to say O’Sullivan is far better in a ring than at the oche but his uncle-in-law Matty O’Sullivan was a Cork darts champion so there is a tungsten prowess in the family.

“I was always good at most sports at school, played a lot of soccer, hurling, snooker, and pool too but ironically darts is the one I am probably the worst at”, laughs Gary.

It has been a tough time for the world of sport during these unprecedented times but we have been fortunate to have been able to watch darts on our screens over the summer.

Speaking of the World Matchplay, O’Sullivan reflects, “Yes I did see a few games and got to watch the final. Sky Sports and the PDC did a great job under the circumstances and the crowd noises really made you think there were fans in the arena”

The standard of Irish darts is very good right now with Willie O’Connor and Steve Lennon flying the flag for the Republic, the emergence of young fellow Corkonian Ciaran Teehan, and current BDO World Youth Champion, Keane Barry. Northern Ireland also boasts plenty of talent, namely the vastly experienced Daryl Gurney, Brendan Dolan, and Mickey Mansell.

Of course there is one famous name that links the two sports. Barry Hearn is the Chairman of the PDC and his son Eddie is a very successful Boxing Promoter.

“I know Eddie very well, very likable bloke and have worked with him on a couple of occasions including a fight against Chris Eubank Jnr. on the undercard of the Anthony Joshua v Dillian Whyte at the O2 Arena”

O’Sullivan hopes to return to the ring soon

“I was due to fight in Brussels earlier in the year but it was cancelled due to the pandemic so I am looking for a fight around December. It’s been great finally being able to spend so much time with my children as I am often away for weeks on end and when I am home they are normally in school. In the meantime, I will keep myself fit, watch the darts and be ready to get back in the ring when the call comes”.

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Feature image: L Lustig

 

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