AFTER years of hard work, blood, sweat and a few tears, Sean Clancy is finally getting the recognition he deserves.
The Corkman was recently named WBC MuayThai fighter of the year for 2019 after enjoying some remarkable success, which saw him win the WBC International title in March of last year before then going on to claim the WBC MuayThai Super-Lightweight World title in July.
But while he always remained sure he would succeed in the ring and secure such belts, he admits he was caught off guard when he was named fighter of the year.
“I was surprised myself,” Clancy told the Echo.
“But it means everything to me. I was actually speechless when I found out I won and I’m still speechless now, it’s everything.
“It’s hard to say what it means, you work so hard for something in life and when you kind of get that pat on the back to say you’ve done a good job it means a lot.
“My secret is just to work…..work, work, work. If work fails for me, it just means I need to work harder, plain and simple.
But it isn’t an honour he will take for granted. The award may mark his achievements for the calendar year of 2019, but the Fermoy native knows his tough journey started long before then.
“It’s not a year thing, this has been years in the making,” he enthuses.
“This has been minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months of hard work. Something like this you don’t just turn up and decide ‘I’m going to be the world champion’ it takes a lot of commitment.
“I have been told that the character I am, I’m never going to be too cocky or boast about myself.
“Even my opinion of myself is that I am ok at this. I step in the ring and my only mission is that win or lose once I step out of the ring again as long as I have done my best in there, that’s me happy.
“Basically I train to be a better version of me every time, improve myself every time and be the best I can be.” Clancy swapped the Rebel County for Thailand – the home of Muay Thai – over four years ago and his ever-increasing stitch count is proof of how tough it is to make it in the sport.
“I prefer the warm weather here than the cold weather in Cork, I’m getting old,” he jokes.
“The first few weeks, months, years it has never got easier living here. But it is a case of anything in life, if you want to push yourself you have to step outside your comfort zone.
"I came to the place where MuayThai was born so where better to learn and push yourself to the limits than here.
“I always say to my mother, 'don’t worry it’s free plastic surgery!' She often wants to video chat after my fights just to see how my face looks because my current stitch count in my face is at 165 stitches. I leave it all in there.”
After 63 gruelling fights and an International title win came Clancy’s crowning glory as he was given the chance to compete for the vacated WBC MuayThai Super-Lightweight World title last summer.
His opponent was Italian Alessandro Sara, the venue was Neptune Stadium in his home town. There was only ever going to be one winner.
“That will stay with me for life,” he added.
“From all the management and all the names that were being thrown around and the locations, it just came together that it would be on in Cork. Not a chance was I going to lose then.” But now his first defence of that belt will see him travel to Perth, Australia where he will be the visitor and his opponent will have home advantage.
“Even now I’m stepping into the Australian's home town in Perth but it doesn’t faze me,” he continued.
“In my head, it’s my belt, it’s mine. I don’t work for these moments just to let someone come along and step all over it.
“I’m currently training and my fight camp is going good, I’m feeling solid. Any spare minute of the day I’m probably spent lying on the bed trying to get the feeling back into my body.
“Every day is constant so we train twice a day for about six hours of the day, six days of the week so it is very full-on.
“I have seen a lot of people come to Thailand and it will either make you or break you in the person you are if you want to become a fighter because there is big dedication involved in it.”
But before that bout, Clancy will be presented with his fighter of the year award by the World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman at the WBC MuayThai world convention in Bangkok on the 14th of March.
It will serve as a timely confidence boost before he heads down under but more than that, it is deserved recognition for a fighter who believes the best is yet to come.
“It will feed my hunger and it will feed my ambition to succeed and to want to do it again, I will want to get that recognition again,” he said.
“In terms of my plans for the future you can never say too much but I am only just starting.
"That’s the best way I can put it every time I win something because every time I tick off something on my list I’m writing down a new goal.
“My ambition doesn’t just stop when I achieve something, I have a new goal in mind and keep pushing.
"After receiving this award for the fighter of the year, I’m going to be pushing to make it two years in a row.”