Champion boxer says self-belief is key

Success does not come easy – you have to come out fighting, says Wayne McCullough

Whether in the ring or in business, Wayne McCullough’s personal mantra is: “Never give up, work hard and believe.”

Ask anyone who has ever tried to set up a business or to keep one afloat to be brutally honest about what it is really like and the feedback suggests it is the equivalent of volunteering to go 12 rounds with an Olympic boxing champion.

Most entrepreneurs will tell you that they do not physically have to step into a ring to suffer that bruised and battered feeling when something they were not expecting suddenly hits them.

But in business, like in every other walk of life, sometimes getting the knocks is the easy part – it is the getting back on your feet again that can be the real challenge.

One man who knows all about hard knocks and using them to your advantage says the way to win – if you want to succeed in business, in the ring or life in general – is to set a goal and simply keep believing in yourself. And he has an Olympic silver medal, a gold Commonwealth Games medal and a bronze medal at the world cup to prove his point.


Wayne "Pocket Rocket" McCullough may not initially appear to be the most obvious business coach in the world, but the boy from Belfast, who knew at the age of seven that he wanted to be a world champion boxer, has learned valuable lessons from his time in the ring which more than translate onto the business stage.


McCullough says the one characteristic that every winner needs to possess – whether you want to be world boxing champion or a high-tech entrepreneur – is good old-fashioned self-belief.

“You have to believe in your own head that you can do it and at the same time you also need to have a drive in you to want to be better – you have to be dedicated to win.

“I knew at seven years old that I wanted to be a boxer. By the time I was 15 I had set myself the goal of becoming a world champion and I knew without anyone having to tell me that I had to work hard to achieve that – I didn’t just train, I went to training camps and then I made myself do extra workouts. I did everything I could just to get better and that’s what it takes if you want to win in business, in sport, in life – you need to want success,” McCullough claims.

He says it may seem obvious but the person who gives up at the first challenge or looks for an easy way out will never be a winner. “Nothing is going to happen if you sit on your butt. You have to work hard and you need to understand from the start that you will get knocked down, time and time again but what makes the difference is how you get up and what you do when you get up.

“Some people who get knocked down give up – but success doesn’t come easy, you have to come out fighting, whether it is in business or boxing. I was knocked down a lot in my career and it took me 10 long years before I tasted success but during that time I was determined to win – and I think if you are greedy to win, to always want to be better then you will get there, you can do what you love and succeed at it,” McCullough says.

His personal knocks included being diagnosed during his boxing career with a cyst in the arachnoid space between the brain and the skull.

McCullough won a major battle with UK boxing authorities to be allowed to fight professionally again and this experience is just one of the reasons why he has become an expert in motivating people to believe in themselves. Every day he puts that experience to good use in his own business.


McCullough, who is now based in


and Las Vegas, is a personal trainer whose “camp with the champ” is proving as popular with amateurs and professional boxers as it is with TV personalities from hit shows such as

Person of Interest


His personal mantra of "never give up, work hard and believe" – is an approach that could prove useful for six newcomers in the North who are through to the regional finals of InterTradeIreland's 2014 Seedcorn competition. The all-island contest – which is supported by The Irish Times – is aimed at early and new start- up companies that need equity funding, and offers a total cash prize fund of €280,000.

This year's six local finalists are: Rytech Digital, Photonic Measurements, Green Sword, Jenarron Therapeutics, Jyrobike and SystemReady.

Next Tuesday the six will step into the ring with each other as the Northern Ireland regional final gets under way.

McCullough’s advice to them would probably be: stay calm and keep your eyes on the competition.