Dubai: A seven-time All-Ireland amateur champion who turned his back on boxing after being overlooked for the 2012 Olympics has rediscovered his love for the sport in Dubai and is now preparing for his first big fight in the emirate.
Welterweight Rohan Date, 25, originally from Waterford in South West Ireland, will take on Girapan Boonpeng of Thailand over six rounds on the undercard of Swedish light heavyweight Badou Jack’s event at Five Palm Jumeirah on May 3.
I had given everything to boxing as an amateur and was really lost and didn’t know what to do afterwards. But I’ve definitely turned it around and found that spark again.
With close to 200 fights at amateur level, Date’s career slowed after winning the Golden Glove World Championships in Washington DC in 2013.
“After that I thought I had done all I had set out to do as an amateur,” said Date, who is now sponsored by, and trains at, Real Boxing Only Gym in Al Quoz.
“The Olympics the year before had been the dream, but there was only spot and 10-15 people competing for it. I thought I was number one, but they thought I had more chance of medalling in Rio, and I didn’t want to be patient.”
Having moved out to Dubai in 2013, Date, who was born in Manchester to an Irish mother and Indian father before growing up in Waterford, got a job in business development in the UAE.
“I had given everything to boxing as an amateur and was really lost and didn’t know what to do afterwards,” he added. “But I’ve definitely turned it around and found that spark again.”
Spurred by seeing the rise of his former flatmate Irish featherweight Michael Conlan, Date got back in the ring after a three-year hiatus in 2016 and has never looked back.
He is now undefeated in seven professional fights, five by knockout, and aims to get to 10 before challenging for a title.
Before that though he has to dispense off Boonpeng.
“He’s a slugger with four wins by knockout followed by two losses, so he has everything to gain and nothing to lose by fighting me. I hope to end it as soon as possible.
“This is exactly the reason I stuck around here, because I always knew the potential Dubai had for hosting big fights, and I’m glad someone like Badou Jack is paving the way for mega-fights with his productions,” added Date, who has so far only fought the first two of his seven fights in the UAE, followed by two in Ireland and four in the UK.
“I’d love to be able to headline his later events in the UAE and bring an intercontinental North African or Middle East title to the region. At the moment I’ve been trying to get an Irish title, but I’m still learning and the goal is to get to 10 fights and push for more.
“Being in Dubai has given me that love for the sport again, because it’s new here and I’m seeing it through the eyes of others who are new to it, and that’s bringing back for me. I had completely turned my back on it as an amateur, but have been given new life as a pro, and it’s exciting to see the push the UAE is putting into it right now.”