Jason Quigley

Jason Quigley was a Sky Academy Sports Scholar before turning pro
Image: Jason Quigley was a Sky Academy Sports Scholar before turning pro

Giving up all the privileges of being a Sky Sports Scholar and ruling out boxing at an Olympics was a tough decision for Jason Quigley.

The rising star from Ballybofey in Ireland, now based in America, was one of the 12 athletes to join the Scholarship scheme after London 2012, benefiting from a tailored programme of support from Sky.

And after a stunning run as an amateur, including a silver at the AIBA World Championships in Kazakhstan in 2013, Quigley was handed a chance to go pro with Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions in the United States.

It was a painful choice, but big ambitions burned deep inside.

In the build-up to Rio, Quigley revealed his agony at opting to miss out on the Olympics, life in LA and how being a Scholar boosted his rise in the boxing world....

Since leaving the Scholarship team it's been a whirlwind. I've had nine pro fights with eight KOs. It's been a massive year in my life, turning professional, moving to the US and with just every aspect in and out of the ring.

The decision to go pro was very hard at the time and made by me and my father. I'm delighted with the decision, though. Will I be watching the Olympics thinking I should have gone? Of course, but that's because that will be the moment.

I will watch the Games but I know I made the right decision. I've got a world title to go for.

Jason Quigley in action for Ireland at the European Amateur Boxing Championships in 2013
Image: Quigley fighting for Ireland at the 2013 European Amateur Boxing Championships

It is good in LA. I'm next to the beach and the weather's great and it's easy to say 'oh Jason's got the life', but at the end of the day, it's not home. It can be tough, but these are the sacrifices we make and my plan is to be reunited with everybody as champion of the world.

Boxing is a tough business. You're only as good as your last fight and you just have to go into the ring and treat each fight like it's a world title fight. You can't overlook any opponent.

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One shot can change the fight and your career. But you do need an end goal and mine is to be champion of the world.

The Scholarship scheme was a major reason for making the professional move so difficult. The scheme gives you everything. All you have to do as a Scholar is go and perform. It gives you unbelievable opportunities, it helps with nutrition, media and many other things.

For a young athlete to get that opportunity is brilliant. It really helped my confidence to know that Sky wanted to support me. It was brilliant to have their backing and have them helping you fulfil your dreams and deal with life.

Jason Quigley (Pic by William Trillo)
Image: Quigley enjoying life in the United States (Pic by William Trillo)

Sometimes the biggest fight can be out of the ring and gym so Sky really help you to be a better person in and out of the sport. I'm sad I didn't spend as many years in it as I could, but I've still been kept part of the Sky family. I still meet up with them and that means a lot to me and I look forward to keeping that relationship with everybody.

Meeting the likes of Darren Campbell and Chris Hoy and picking their brains was amazing. Talking to them and seeing how normal these guys are gave me massive confidence.

I saw that they were just ordinary people, doing the same as me but working their butts off. The money was great but at the end of the day, just being part of Sky and having that stability around you knowing people have your back and meeting the great legends of the sports was brilliant.

The thing that really stuck out by being with Hoy was seeing how everything came down to the smallest thing. It was the simplest of things and with Chris it was his wife cooking his meals after training.

Image: Cycling legend Chris Hoy has been a huge influence for Quigley

Hoy was very honest about that. It's something I would really appreciate being away from home and living in LA. It can make the difference but I can wait for the right person!

My advice for any athlete on the Scholarship scheme is they should enjoy every single moment and take as much as you can from it. When you get opportunities to meet the stars then pick their brains. Any questions or doubts then open up and talk to them because they've been through it with all the ups and downs.

You can be shy and think it's a stupid question, but if it's in your head then it's not stupid. Embrace the moment. There's so much to take away from it and you can make yourself a better athlete.

As for my career, over the next 12 months I intend to put in a sensational performance in all my fights, to be exciting and stay undefeated and make a major mark in the middleweight division.

I am to start my domination.....