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Entertainment | film | Sport

Interview: Steve Collins on moving from boxing to movies

stevecollins-nMOST retired sports stars are content to sit back for a while and enjoy their hard-earned success, but don’t mention taking it easy to boxer Steve Collins.

The former world champion is stepping into a new career away from the boxing ropes and he’s hugely excited about it.

I caught up with him this week to hear all about how he ended up acting in a new Irish short film called Tax City, written by Andy Nolan and directed by Tom Begley.

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It’s set in London in the 1990s and follows the story of a rock star called Johnny Costa (played by Jon Campling) who gets brutally assaulted and ends up on the streets where he eventually comes face to face with his attacker, played by Collins. It’s gritty and real and those who have seen it have raved about Collins’ performance.

Perhaps some people are surprised that a man can turn from one incredibly successful career and switch seamlessly into another? But ask anyone who worked on the project and they’ll tell you that is precisely what the Dubliner has done.

“I met Andy through the Clan London fundraiser and he asked me to get involved, so I did,” Steve told. “We had an audition and he offered me the part. I showed up and did my bit. It was good fun making the film together because we had good craic doing it. I’m proud of the end result. It’s quite a story.

“They’re all interesting people who worked on Tax City and I enjoyed working with them and being a part of it. Tom Begley gave me some great tips. My children play a part in it too, in the hospital scene by the bed. My son Luke is 11 years old and my daughter Enya is 10, and it was a great experience for them too, it’ll give them a bit of confidence. Overall I found it good fun and a big learning curve.”

So will we be seeing more of the Celtic Warrior on the silver screen in the years to come?

“I have to say acting is something I have enjoyed doing. It’s fun. If there are roles out there, people will contact you. It’s

interesting and enjoyable. The pressure isn’t on me as much doing it (compared to being in the boxing ring), it’s more than a job but the real pressure is on younger actors starting out. That’s where the pressure really is.”

Collins lists Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels as his favourite film (he played a part in this too), closely followed by the old classic Raging Bull.

He adds: “With Lock, Stock.. Guy Ritchie gave me a copy of the script and stuck me in. That was great fun. I love that film.” And fans of the group the BibleCodeSundays have a real treat coming up, as Steve tells me their next video is well worth checking out. The song is called Count Your Blessings and Collins isn’t the only famous face in the forthcoming video.

“Yeah! I’m in there and so too is Robbie Keane and Mickey Rourke! Mickey owed me a favour and the lads in the band asked me if I could ring him, so I did. I rang him up and sorted it out for Robbie to hook up with him in California. They filmed it at Mickey’s house and then Robbie and him went to a boxing match together. It’s brilliant!”

Acting is a path Collins is only really setting out on, but his first love will always be boxing. He conquered the world as the ‘Celtic Warrior’ and carved out a stellar career for himself defeating every big name that came his way. Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn, both famously fell to Collins. But there was one fight that never happened. And it looks like it’s about to finally take place, all these years later.

“Roy Jones Jnr is a fight that has taken 15 years to make. So don’t call it a comeback, it’s not a comeback. We’re getting close and I hope to have something signed maybe this week. Jones wants a lot of money. He’s not going to take a beating for nothing. I’m in good shape. I’m in training all the time.

“I’m fit enough. What I’ll do is go into a training camp for 10-12 weeks. That’ll be in Ireland. It’ll be a fairly punishing schedule. This fight will be a oneoff. It’s going to happen. I have no more ambitions in boxing, I fulfilled them all. He wants to fight me. He’s a very good fighter and he did very well to avoid me (in the late 1990s).

“This should have happened 15 years ago. He didn’t want it then and now he does. He believes that 15 years on I have gone soft in my old age. That’s a big mistake he is making.” In and out of the ring, it’s all happening in Steve Collins’ world. Just don’t ask him how the comeback is going if you bump into him on the street.

“This is most definitely not a comeback,” he says. “I never went away!”

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