Damon O`Neill is a talented, dedicated, rising amateur star, who has his sights firmly set on the forthcoming Olympics.
The 23 year old southpaw middleweight is a member of Reading Amateur Boxing Club. Twenty four victories in twenty five fights, he`s won all of his international contests, four National Titles and five boxing Cups.
In January he went to Jamaica and defeated its national champion Jonathan Hanson, who was seven times national champion and twice Caribbean champion. Also three cups in Mexico, a boxing competition in Los Angeles and he`s won an international fight in Spain. Reading between the lines, Damon has the potential to go all the way!
Damon hopes to represent Jamaica in the Olympics and is now training hard in advance of the qualifiers in Argentina, which are scheduled for February, unless called up for the Jamaica Nationals in January. It`ll be excellent experience because Damon will he facing team members from the United States, but also Mexico, Panama, Venezuela and other Latino nations.
It all started at the age of fifteen when Damon switched from soccer to boxing and fell in love with the sport as well as its lifestyle. He recalls: “I used to play soccer as a youngster, but at thirteen I was hit by a car and broke my leg, and from that point I never really played the same. But me and a friend were very interested in boxing. We had watched a film about Muhammad Ali, starring Will Smith. We went to our local club which is five minutes from my house, we sparred and we loved it.”
For the last eight years Adrian Riley has been Damon`s Coach and Damon praises his inspiration, coaching skills and great patience as a superb and astute teacher.
Damon says the big goal would be to win an Olympic medal. He comments: “It would honestly mean the world to me. Since I was fifteen I`ve been dreaming about and working towards the Olympics, which is the pinnacle of amateur boxing. I`ve been training very, very hard. I`ve set myself goals. Firstly to become national champion and successfully defend it, international bouts and then the Olympics and winning a gold, before turning pro.
“Actually I was thinking about turning pro, but with the Olympics coming around, I thought why not have a go at that, Jamaica got in touch with me, so I have to go for that.”
Mexico is a cradle of boxing and Damon credits his visits, as providing himself a wealth of experience against very tough opponents. He says: “It was hard to gauge how difficult it was in Mexico. The high altitude is definitely a factor in Mexico City and opponents… who came in to try and take my head off!” Three trips to Mexico, and Damon won each of his five fights.
His boxing heroes are Tommy Hearns and especially Pernell Whitaker, who Damon stresses has had a huge influence on the way he boxes, slipping punches and countering. A master craftsman influence!