CHICAGO (AP) — Long before he created “Riverdance” and “Lord of the Dance” and performed before millions of people worldwide, Michael Flatley thought he might make a living dancing around the ring.
Actor Joseph Sikora knew he wasn’t destined for a career in boxing. But he and Flatley have a few things in common when it comes to the sweet science.
Both credit lessons they learned from boxing for their success in the entertainment world and consider competing in the Chicago Golden Gloves a key part of their development. The two were among the seven “Titans” who were honored April 13 for their success outside of boxing as part of the event’s 100th anniversary celebration.
“It taught me the value of hard work, determination, perseverance, preparation,” Flatley said. “Good qualities, because there’s no one in that ring except you. Your trainer’s not there. Your mates aren’t in there. Once that bell rings, you’re on your own and you have to find out real quick if you worked hard enough or not.”
The Chicago Golden Gloves is the largest and longest running non-national boxing tournament in the United States. Past champions include Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali.
Flatley, whose mother was a talented dancer, moved with his family to the South Side not long after he was born. He began taking lessons at the Dennehy School of Irish Dance as a youngster. He was good but getting bullied for it at school. His father Michael Sr. decided the boy needed to learn to defend himself, and Flatley wound up falling in love with boxing.
He competed in the 1975 Chicago Golden Gloves and considered turning pro before opting for a career as a dancer.
“I got a great offer from a guy in London and my father wanted me to box instead of dance,” Flatley said. “I love boxing. But I’m glad I followed the other road.”
Flatley lives in Monte Carlo and Ireland. Because he was in Montreal this month to present an award at the World Irish Dancing Championships, he wasn’t about to miss the event in Chicago.
“It gave me a great start in life,” he said.
Sikora, who stars as convicted drug dealer Tommy Egan in the Starz series “Power,” grew up on the Northwest Side. He came in part to honor late coach Tom O’Shea.
“I had a lot of losses,” Sikora said. “I rocked at about 50%. Unlike most kids who fight and lose and quit, I fight and lose and I kept coming back. And my nose didn’t pay too big a price.”
That he kept coming back and didn’t quit was the point.
“Ninety-nine percent is showing up,” Sikora said. “I attribute a lot of my success in life to that.”