I had the privilege of hearing Bernard Dunne, the former World Super Bantamweight Champion, speak at a networking event last week.

In his short piece, Bernard talked about when in 2007, and the then European Champion tipped to be World Champion, he was stopped in his tracks in a title defence by Spaniard, Kiko Martinez, in only 86 seconds of the first round.

He described it as a devastating blow for him and his ambitions. This was exacerbated by the reaction of the media, commentators and those in the boxing world who said that he was finished and that he had no chance of winning a World Title.

Bernard went on to say that in the days and weeks after the fight that he began to contemplate his future. He realised that he had to make the choice, and he emphasised the word ‘choice’, about what he was going to do. He chose, despite the manner of the defeat and all of the chattering around him, to make the commitment to become World Champion.

In doing so he set about finding out about what it would actually take to become that champion. Having studied and learned about what was involved he set about making changes to the routine that he had followed up to that point and which had served him all the way up to winning his European Title.

He revamped his training, his schedule, his diet, his lifestyle, his training camps, his strategy around selecting opponents – everything was plotted and planned out in a manner that would lead him to the level and condition that would make him a World Champion.

He achieved his goal, in just two years, when he defeated the Panamanian, Ricardo Cordoba, in Dublin in March 2009 to take the WBA crown.

On reflecting on his loss to Martinez, Bernard said that in inflicting such a comprehensive first-round loss on him the Spaniard had shown him that he was way off the pace if he wanted a World Title. If he was going to seriously commit to his goal then he had to change everything. He did and the rest, as they say, is history.

‘Kiko did me a favour’ he said. ‘If it hadn’t happened that way then I might not have made the changes that I needed to make.’

In telling the story of ‘the Kiko defeat’ he said that he wanted to emphasise a few things to us;

  • There will always be setbacks and you have a choice as to what you do in response – accept failure and give up, or keep going. Failure IS a choice too.
  • You must have a goal, or what ever your version of being World Champion is, in your career or your business.
  • You need to plot your way towards that goal and be prepared to put in the effort and sacrifice (choices) to make it happen.
  • Never give up! It may not happen as you planned but you need to keep going until it does.

The final thing that struck me is something that Bernard didn’t actually say, but implied, is that he did something else – He asked for help!

In fact, he sought out people that could advise and help him, people who could make his journey shorter by giving him the benefit of their knowledge and experience of what it would take to become a World Champion.

Bernard is a very nice guy, very humble and even shy but extremely inspirational and encouraging. As he said to us on the evening, ‘if a guy from Neilstown, a working class suburb in West Dublin, can become World Champion then you can achieve what you want too.’

It is food for thought and an inspiring message for us all.