The 21-year-old Commonwealth bronze medallist from the Ormeau Road in south Belfast has been boxing for roughly 14 years at the St George’s ABC club in the Markets area of Belfast. He has won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal and European gold, and been national champion 11 times and twice Ulster Elite Champion. James lives at home with his parents Jim (47) and Nicola (45), brother Jack (17) and sister Emma (24).
Q: Do you take regular exercise and if so, what?
A: I would train on average 11 times a week as well as playing soccer on a Saturday. During the week I do two sessions a day. In the morning I would do a strength and conditioning session with my coach, Stuart McKeating. I would follow this with an evening boxing session with my father, Jim McGivern, and club head coach, Danny Boyd. It’s a tough regime but, thanks to the support I get from sponsors like GLL Sport Foundation, I am able to train full time and compete at my best.
Q: What is the worst illness you’ve had?
A: To date, thankfully, I haven’t had any overly major illnesses but when I was boxing at 56kg, sometimes when I was cutting weight I would get tonsillitis and that would leave me bed-bound for at least a few days.
Q: How healthy is your diet?
A: My diet is usually tracked, and I try to stick to my main macros. I don’t do anything fancy and I stick to whole foods and keep junk food to a minimum. But when I get a break, I won’t lie, I give in to a few weaknesses. It’s a well-known fact that I am a fan of a pizza or two but a little of what we like sometimes won’t hurt, surely?
Q: Any bad habits?
A: I wouldn’t have many bad habits that I can think of, but again, back to diet, I maybe indulge a bit too much in my down time. For some strange reason when I’m cutting weight, I watch (TV show) Man Vs Food which doesn’t help. Does self-torture count as a bad habit?
Q: Do you drink and smoke and, if so, how much?
A: I wouldn’t be a big drinker and I don’t smoke at all. However, like the diet, when I get a chance to, I do enjoy a pint or two when I’m not training. I’m a massive soccer fan so sometimes when my favourite team is playing, and I have no fights coming up, I enjoy a couple of pints with my mates when I’m watching the game. I really enjoy a few quiet ones in my local along with having a few laughs with my mates.
Q: Do you take any supplements?
A: I try to stay away from supplements where possible. With anti-doping and drug testing, a lot of supplements can flag up on a test without me knowing what was in the supplement. At the minute the only supplement I am using is a whey protein to make sure I get enough protein in between sessions, as it would be tough to eat that amount of chicken.
Q: How do you take time out?
A: When I take time out, I try to keep as occupied as possible. When I came home from the Commonwealth Games, I woke up the next day and didn’t know what to do with myself. So now during my down time I’ll do some coaching in the club with the kids or play golf. Recently, I joined Newtownbreda FC so when I’m not full-time training, I get to stay active and keep fit.
Q: How well do you sleep?
A: My sleep pattern can be a little up the wall. To be completely honest I am not a morning person at all – I’m not the kind of person who’s up running at 5am. That would not suit me at all. Thankfully I have the ability to train at times that suit me, and I really get the most out of my sessions. When I do head to bed, I sleep like a log.
Q: Do you worry about getting old?
A: I don’t worry about getting old at all. There are times after training I wake up the next day and feel like I’m 80-odd already! I don’t really think about that too much. I work as hard as I can in the present so that when I’m older people will still talk about me long after I’ve stopped boxing.
Q: What is your go-to product that keeps you feeling healthy?
A: A good moisturiser! Yes folks, this tough boxer always makes sure to moisturise well. Training as often as I do, my skin can end up beat up and dried out, so a decent moisturiser is an important tool that’s always in my kit bag. Take note men, take care of your skin.