New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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From Bobst to boxing: NYU’s up-and-coming student-athlete

A look into the life of NYC’s No. 1 Light Heavyweight Champion, NYU student Sean O’Bradaigh.
A+man+in+a+maroon+shirt+with+white+graphics+leans+on+the+plastic+rope-like+border+of+a+boxing+ring.+He+wears+a+wrapped%2C+black%2C+velcro+glove+on+his+right+hand%2C+with+his+hands+laced+together+in+front+of+him.
Manasa Gudavalli
Sean O’Bradaigh. (Manasa Gudavalli for WSN)

NYU real estate student Sean O’Bradaigh is one of the country’s top light heavyweight amateur boxers. His record, currently at 19-7, earned him a membership with the New York Athletic Club — one of the city’s most prestigious athletic clubs, boasting 291 Olympic medals won by its members. 

O’Bradaigh has fought against some of the best amateur boxers in the United States and competed for a place on Team USA’s boxing team for the Paris 2024 Olympics. 

He’s done all this on his own, unaffiliated with NYU due to college boxing not being NCAA-sanctioned, and still balancing a full course load. O’Bradaigh trains twice a day, six days a week — in the mornings, it’s either strength and conditioning or runs, and in the evenings he trains with four other boxing members of the New York Athletic Club.

“It’s sometimes difficult to go from the gym to the classroom, and you’re trying to apply for internships and jobs while you’re getting ready to fight and losing weight,” O’Bradaigh said. “My life has been very hectic the last few years, I rarely get to relax.”

A man in a maroon shirt with white graphics punches forward, while facing toward his left. He wears wrapped, black, velcro gloves on both hands. One arm punches out and the other is bent at the elbow, close to his chest, with the thumb seeming to touch his chin.
Sean O’Bradaigh at a training session at New York Athletic Club. (Manasa Gudavalli for WSN)

The 21-year-old won the New York Golden Gloves tournament — now called the Ring Masters — last year, winning his amateur middleweight title. Then, he moved up a weight class to fight at 176 lbs and won the New York Boxing Tournament, making him the No. 1 light heavyweight amateur boxer in the New York metropolitan area. 

O’Bradaigh grew up entranced by famous Irish mixed martial artist Conor McGregor ever since he saw him at Madison Square Garden at age 13. Boxing came naturally to him through his Irish roots, and he followed in McGregor’s footsteps last year, when he won the Golden Glove in the same arena. 

O’Bradaigh started taking his passion seriously when he decided his life goal was to win an Olympic gold medal in 2024. 

“Ever since then, it’s been my life,” said O’Bradaigh. “That was when boxing changed from something I was passionate about to something I wanted to pursue.” 

His parents denied him his first chance to turn professional after high school, so he chose NYU due to its rigorous academic background to back up his fighting skills.

His “iron discipline,” as his mother described it, got him to the 2024 Paris Olympic trials for the USA Boxing team. NYU granted O’Bradaigh special time off as he headed to Lafayette, Louisiana in early December 2023, competing against the best light heavyweight boxers in the country for a chance to qualify for the Olympics through more bouts against the best boxers on the continent. 

Two hands in wrapped, black velcro gloves. The person, whose head is not visible, has his elbows resting on his lap as he sits in a chair.
(Manasa Gudavalli for WSN)

O’Bradaigh lost in the first round, but understood that he needed more experience to compete against the best.

“It was an unbelievable learning experience,” said O’Bradaigh. “I didn’t get to my dream that I set out to six years ago, but at least I know I really gave it my all and I got to the trials.”

He remains cagey about the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028, because he has to remain amateur for another four years to compete. O’Bradaigh wanted to turn professional but realized it only made sense if he was signed by Top Rank or Matchroom Boxing — two of the biggest boxing promotion companies in the world. 

O’Bradaigh is training for this year’s New York Ring Masters competition, which began Feb. 2 and runs through April as he looks to defend his title at Madison Square Garden. O’Bradaigh suffered a tight split-decision loss by one point in his first fight against Blake “Biscuits” Hendershott on Feb. 22. 

However, the tournament follows a double elimination structure, so O’Bradaigh has another shot at the title. His next fight is yet to be determined. 

“I graduate in December 2024, so my goal is to win the nationals at the end of the year and make the national team, which requires you to be number one in the country,” said O’Bradaigh. “If I don’t get that contract, I’ll probably hang up the gloves. If I do, lucky days!”

Contact Jonathan Mak at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Jonathan Mak, Deputy Sports Editor
Jonathan Mak is a sophomore studying Journalism and Psychology at CAS. His mood depends on the Manchester United results, and he can be found obsessing over his fantasy Premier League team, trying to find authentic Southeast Asian food or watching "How I Met Your Mother." Send fantasy PL tips or invites to pick-up football games to @_jonmak on Instagram and @_jonathanmak_ on X, formerly Twitter.
Manasa Gudavalli, Editor-in-Chief
Manasa Gudavalli is a super senior studying a super strange combination of psychology, mathematics, journalism, and chemistry. When they are not editing the Washington Square News, they are probably reading Freud, watching college football, or developing film photos. You can find them on Instagram @manasa.gudavalli and @gudavalli.photography.

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