A professional boxer wants to follow in the footsteps of his hero Katie Taylor – and he’s doing it in memory of his mum.
Limerick native Lee Reeves said it would be a “dream come true” to become world champ and honour his mother Cathy who died by suicide 10 years ago.
The southpaw defeated Mexican fighter Sebastian Diaz Maldonado to become the North American Boxing Federation light welterweight champion last year.
Lee, 27, told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “It would be a dream come true to be the champion of the world for my mam, Cathy.
“She was my biggest supporter. Before a fight I’d listen to her and was ready to run through walls after her pep talk.
“I want to give my sisters the life they never dreamed they could have.
“Katie Taylor is the best Irish sportsperson I’ve ever seen.
“I’ve seen a lot of Katie’s explosive strength conditioning that she forged in America, I implement some of that into my own training.”
The devoted fighter opened up on the heartbreak of losing his mother when he was just 17.
He said: “It was a very difficult time. She passed away in December 2015, but in 2014 she went to the doctors to check a milk duct in her breast.
“Out of nowhere she was told she had breast cancer and had to have her breasts removed.
“It was a bit of a whirlwind for her, a single mother with four young, half-crazy kids to mind.”
Lee helped raise his three younger sisters after his mother died, using physical exercise as a coping mechanism.
He added: “Boxing is like my therapy, that’s my addiction, becoming the best person that I can be.
“I have a lot of demons and boxing is my outlet.”
Lee, who grew up in Kennedy Park in Roxborough, Limerick city, said: “I’ve seen it all, fights and killings, people being badly beaten on the streets, drugs and drink.
“Ninety-five per cent of my friends who I grew up with are either on drugs, dead or battling problems.
“I’ve been through the struggles, the ups and the downs. That’s why I’m a very grateful person.
“I appreciate every opportunity that comes my way, because we didn’t have these opportunities before.
“When you grow up in that environment, and you’re just naturally a tough person, it’s some of the best memories you’ll
When he’s not working Lee gives back as a volunteer with Limerick Treaty Suicide Prevention, a group of “absolute heroes” who patrol the bridges around the city nightly.
He added: “We help people in distress, to stop people who are suicidal leaping into the river. We’ve saved so many lives. To shine a light on mental health is needed in the city.
“All these kids think, ‘We’re too cool to talk about our feelings’ but there’s nothing uncool about being mentally strong.
However, Lee is now making waves as a male model after being headhunted by Assets agency.
He admitted there was some “slagging” on social media “but that doesn’t get me down”. Lee also revealed he turned down offers from reality TV shows to pursue his true calling, boxing.
He said: “I was approached by two or three different shows on MTV.
“The whole drinking and nightlife stuff isn’t something that I want to be pushing out to the youth.
“There’s so much you can gain from those shows, but so much you can lose from them at the same time. It’s not productive for my career.”
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