On parade with...Barry McGuigan
St Patrick's 2015

On parade with...Barry McGuigan

BEING GRAND MARSHALL of the St Patrick’s Day Parade in the greatest city in the world, I’m very proud of that. It’s fantastic to see how far we’ve moved on – the relationship between the British and the Irish has never been better.

One of the best St Patrick’s Days I’ve had was when I was a Grand Marshal in Toronto, Canada, in the early 1990s. I was wearing a lime green felt jacket, it was an incredible day. I sat in the back of a 1955 Cadillac and they drove me around, it was marvellous.

My biggest career achievement to date has to be winning the World Title, and helping to create a good atmosphere between the warring factions in troubled Northern Ireland back in the 1980s when things were very hostile.

My motivation comes from wanting the kids training in our organisation to maximise their potential, there’s no greater gratification than to see that happen. I love what I do, I’m not working.

The biggest challenge I’ve faced in my career is to be the best at what we do. To give kids the chance to be stars.

When it comes to heroes, my father was someone I looked up to and admired. Funny, kind and talented, he was a great man. In boxing, it’s Roberto Duran, a Panamanian boxer who was one of the greatest fighters I ever set eyes on. Also, Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Leonard, who was probably the greatest all-rounder of my lifetime. And, of course, Muhammad Ali, who was an inspirational character.

My favourite place in Ireland is Newcastle, Co. Down and the Mourne Mountains.

The best thing about where I live, in southeast Kent, is its beauty. It’s a fabulous part of the world. The worst thing is that to get into London we have the A2, which is not wide enough to take the amount of traffic, and the dreaded Blackwall Tunnel.

The thing that makes me angry is people telling lies and people who are dishonourable. I’m also getting more annoyed now than I used to, I think it’s something to do with age.

The best piece of advice I was ever given was from my headmaster at primary school who said to me: “You can do things right, you can do things wrong, always do it to the best of your ability.”

If I could change one thing in my life it would be to have my brother Dermot back. He committed suicide in 1994, I’d like to have him back with me. He was my right hand man, my trainer.

The best lesson life has taught me is to be honest, not just to others but to yourself.

When it comes to a trait that others criticise me for, I suppose it’s what the famous Reg Gutteridge, who was a great commentator for ITV, said: “McGuigan would never use five words where 25 would do!”

If my career hadn’t been in boxing I’d have been a singer, I’ve got a pretty good voice. My father Pat was a professional musician, he sang in the Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland in 1968.

My guilty pleasures are sugar in my tea and coffee. I’ve got a sweet tooth, the duvet around the abs which did not exist before is getting marginally thicker.

St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival 2015, London takes place on Sunday, March 15, 12:00pm to 6:00pm