AS JASON QUIGLEY stood at the head of the County Chamber in the County House in Lifford, surrounded by family, friends and many associates from the boxing world, another team looked on from the west coast of America.
The elected members of Donegal County Council gave Quigley a Civic Reception, one of the highest accolades the Council can bestow, in honour of his record-breaking exploits in the ring.
As an amateur, Quigley won a World silver medal in 2013 and has won European titles at Senior, Under-23 and Youth level, while he was the Irish senior middleweight champion in 2013 – the last of the eleven Irish crowns he won in the gold and black of the Finn Valley ABC.
Picture caption: Jason Quigley in action against Bogdan Juratoni in the 2013 European senior middleweight final.
In April 2014, Quigley signed a five-year deal with Golden Boy Promotions and moved to Los Angeles to link up with the stable of boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya.
Since turning pro, Quigley is nine-out-of-nine and has won eight of his bouts inside the distance.
Team Quigley in California looked on with pride yesterday as their middleweight prospect was honoured in his homeland.
“We are immensely proud of Jason,” Rachel Charles, of Sheer Sports Management, to whom Quigley is aligned, said.
“To be celebrated by ones own town is an incredible testament to his humility, work ethic and achievements. Even though he’s based in LA, he’s a Donegal lad to the bone.
“Sheer Sports Management is very proud to be a part of his journey.”
Listen to this week’s Donegal Sport Hub podcast from the County House in Lifford
Quigley likened his career so far to that of a trip in the car. He feels as though he’s only turned on the ignition.
Living 8,000 kilometres from home can be a challenging experience and the Ballybofey native gave those in attendance in Lifford a glimpse of the personal sacrifices he’s made.
“The biggest and hardest challenge for me was moving to LA,” he said.
“Being on that journey and fulfilling my dreams, that has been the hardest thing for me, being away from my family and my friends.
“Everybody might look at Facebook or Instagram and think: ‘Jesus, Quigley’s having some time of it on Venice Beach’. The weather is amazing and it is pretty good, but you get down times.
“You be at the gym, working hard and there are days when you’ll go in with a guy you should pop around the ring and it’s the other way about. You come home then and you have no-one to chat to and that’s where my friends and family come in.
“There are lonely and tough times that people don’t get to see.”
And yet, those long nights with only FaceTime conversations to his family and friends in a different time zone, are the very moments that are driving him to achieve those goals.
He said: “Not every fighter is doing what I am or has made the sacrifices that I have. There have been a lot of big changes and big decisions in my life and it has been tough, but there are some things that you just have to do.
“It has stood by me in the ring and when my hand is raised when I win, that means the world to me. It hasn’t all been plain sailing, but that’s where the community and the support from home means so much.”
Quigley is back at home for Christmas and will return to Tinseltown ahead of what promises to be a big year in 2016.
He has a hero’s standing in Ballybofey and the support of his hometown isn’t something he takes for granted.
“My community has always stayed with me and has supported me all the way,” he said.
“Even when I drove around the town when I get back home, Alice Bonner has the posters up. That’s such a nice feeling to get. I’m away for long periods and I come home and see: ‘Good luck, Jason’ and things like that.
“Those are the things I don’t see before a fight. It’s unbelievable. Through the ups and downs, the community has always been behind me and my club, the Finn Valley Boxing Club, my family, and everyone has been through it all for me.”