Luke “Sugar Free” Byrne is a 19-year old Boxer from Longford, Ireland. He was diagnosed with Diabetes on January 6, 2010, so at the time of publishing, is celebrating his 6th anniversary since diagnosis. In our Diabetics Doing Things Podcast, we talked about his diagnosis, challenges of getting doctor’s approval to continue to box, and words of encouragement to other Diabetics.
Q: What was it like trying to convince doctor’s you were healthy enough to box?
A: I had this great endocrinologist, he was an awesome Doctor and I couldn’t have asked for a better doctor when I was first diagnosed, but he was totally against boxing. Not just even for diabetics, but in general. He was concerned with head trauma and all the usual stuff. So when I applied for my license from the IABA (Irish Amateur Boxing Association)
Q: What did it take to get it done?
A: It really took like 6-8 months of going back and forth with IABA via email. My father was citing that it was discrimination, and I was healthy enough to participate and should be able to. Ultimately they said I just needed permission from an endocrinologist and I thought the worst because my doctor hated boxing. But the hospital assigned me a new endocrinologist who had just returned from Australia working with Diabetic surfers. So he tested my levels and said I was healthy enough and signed off on my paperwork and 2 weeks later my license came
Q: What’s your mindset when you think about Diabetes?
A: The way I look at it is the only difference between me and anyone else out there is I carry my pancreas in my pocket. That’s really the only difference, and as long as I monitor my levels and keep track of my sugars I’ll be fine. I just want to be treated like every other boxer that steps into the gym.
Q: How do you prepare when you’re training?
A: It’s funny, my blood sugars spike at nighttime so I always wake up with a little dry mouth and some high levels. So recently I’ve been doing the caveman diet, which includes a pint of water as soon as I wake up but really I just test throughout the day, I don’t really have a set routine, I just try to listen to my body.
Q: Is there anyone else in your family that has Type-1?
A: It’s kind of weird actually, the only other person in my family is my Dad’s Great Uncle, so it’s like four generations. Hopefully it skips another four.
Q: If you could say one thing to someone who just got diabetes, what would you tell them?
A: I would be really, really cheesy and tell them don’t let anyone or anything stop you from doing what you want to do. It’s the truest thing I could ever tell someone. I look at other successful Diabetics and think if they can do it, so can I. How your life pans out with Diabetes is totally up to you, if you want to be anything you can do it.
Luke is currently rehabbing an injury, and hopes to compete in 2016 for a chance to make the Irish National Boxing team, and work towards his goal of making the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeByrne.