Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Mr Duffy and Mr Clifford by Barry McGuigan

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Mr Duffy and Mr Clifford by Barry McGuigan

Article excerpt

The former boxing world champion remembers two teachers who packed a punch

Two of my teachers had a huge impact on me. Not only did they shape who I am but they also influenced my career. I can't pick between them so I'll tell you about both: Peter Duffy and Peter Clifford, who taught me at St Patrick's High School in Clones, County Monaghan, between the ages of 13 and 16.

I wouldn't have been a scholar - that was never going to happen. I was far from the brightest in the class, but these two showed incredible patience with me and boosted my confidence massively. That confidence played a huge part in the journey I was to go on in my boxing career. I'm indebted to them for that.

I had a predilection for English and my teacher, Mr Duffy, was brilliant. I'm dyslexic and I was always putting words the wrong way round. Mr Duffy was wonderfully encouraging of me in spite of that. I was diligent and hard-working, and I think these qualities appealed to him. He would sit down with me and go over my essays with a fine-tooth comb.

Mr Duffy had a wonderful way of questioning why I took a certain route with my writing and he was also a big believer in vocabulary. There was no such thing as enough vocabulary to him. I'm now a boxing commentator and public speaker, and I owe what I hope is a varied vocabulary to that man.

He shaped the way I communicate, there's no doubt in my mind of that. When you're commentating, you might be relaying details of a boring fight but that doesn't mean you can be boring. I'm able to keep things interesting, I hope, because at that young age, when I became fascinated by words, Mr Duffy encouraged me. I'm a pretty good storyteller, too, and much of that is down to him.

Mr Clifford was my mechanical drawing and woodwork teacher. I was always good with my hands, so a lot of what he taught came naturally, but the key thing he inspired in me was patience. …

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