THERE is a tendency among athletes to always emphasise the positives, even in adversity. Perhaps that stems from how they’ve been coached or from an insatiable inner drive to keep ploughing on even through lost causes.

The enduring effects of the pandemic, however, have pushed even the most optimistic into a period of reflection and an honest acknowledgement that things might not turn out as they would have hoped and liked.

Darren Tarr has reached that juncture. Unlike other boxers who have “stayed ready waiting for the phone to ring” during a period when the sport has effectively shut down for all but the elite, the 28 year-old admits he has lost the motivation to keep pursuing a dream that now feels like a mirage.

The St Andrews Sporting Club fighter hasn’t fought since November 2019 and doubts now whether he ever will again, as the wait for boxing in Scotland to get back on its feet goes on.

“At the start of lockdown I wasn’t too bad as I was coming back from a calf injury,” he admits. “But as it’s dragged on and on, the light at the end of the tunnel just seems to be getting less and less.

 

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“I’m now at the point it’s if I ever go back to it, rather than when. I’ve been boxing since I was 13 but time is marching on now and it’s hard now to see a return.

“If you watch the news it feels like we’re in a worse state than we were last year with the virus. So, realistically, how far away are we from having 3000 or so boxing fans back in the Lagoon in Paisley or even a few hundred at the Radisson for an event? I don’t want to sound defeatist but I can’t see it any time soon.

“St Andrews are talking about working towards September. But right now I’m not fit and I’m overweight. It’s probably the worst condition I’ve been in my whole life.

“I box at 12 stone and at the moment I’m probably 13-and-a-half if I’m lucky, probably 14. It would probably take me between now and September to get into a proper condition to fight. But even that date isn’t guaranteed. Nobody knows how this thing is going to twist and turn. I’m 29 next month and time is marching on. So it might get to a point where you just think “enough is enough”.”

Tarr turned professional two years ago after being “soured” by his experiences in the amateurs, with a view to seeing how far he could go within five years.

The target was to put in the rounds over his first few bouts before challenging for Scottish or British titles. But, having been inactive for a year, the Kilbarchan-based boxer admits those aspirations now seem further away than ever.

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“In the past when I had a date for a fight that was me switched on,” adds the Barrhead ABC boxer. “My wife would drag me out of bed at 430am to do the road work, then I’d do my day job as a joiner, and then do the gym work at night, maybe sparring. That was fine.

“But when there’s no date ahead I really struggle. I did some sparring over the summer and it was good rounds. But I was getting home and realising I couldn’t really be bothered. So you’re up and down all the time, wondering whether it’s worth keeping on at it.

“I’d hate to throw in the towel completely just now as if boxing did come back I’d be watching it and fizzing that I’d quit. But, speaking right now, that doesn’t feel likely any time soon.

“My wife has left it down to me. But she reckons that if I’m not going to commit as I did in the past, I should come away from it entirely.

“I think it will all come down to when we’re back in the gym. I’ll know and my trainers will know in the first few sessions if my heart is still in it. And if not then maybe that will be it.”