Boxing brothers role models for Travellers

Boxing brothers role models for Travellers

Martin McDonagh (left), his brothers Gerard (second left) and Patrick, and their father, Gerard, with some of their medals. The brothers box at the Glen Boxing Club.
Pic: Denis Minihane

THE McDonagh boxing brothers are determined to become role models for other young Travellers.

The teenagers have been inspired by their coach, Tommy Kelleher, to one day make it to the Olympics, before fighting professionally.

The dream was sparked when they began training at the Glen Boxing Club as little boys.

After years of perseverance, Martin’s, Gerard’s and Patrick’s string of medals now take pride of place in their trailer in Blackpool.

A European Championship bronze medal, Senior Cadet Irish titles, and Munster titles are among their many accolades.

The brothers are keen to make an impact on their community, too, having volunteered in soup-kitchen charity, Cork Penny Dinners.

“It’s a lonely sport,” Martin said. 

“I’m up at 5am in the morning to go running and get fit. That’s before I go to work, as I do woodwork, as well. You can’t eat fatty foods or anything like that.

“There are a lot of Travellers that could be world champions, but they don’t have the heart. They get to a certain age and just give up.”

He spoke of how boxing has made him the man he is today.

“It gives you manners and respect for your elders. You learn discipline. If someone wants to fight you on the street, you just walk away, because you know the dangers. It puts you thinking. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is walk away.”

The 18-year-old’s wife, Brigid, is undoubtedly his biggest fan.

“Sometimes, your wife is more helpful than anybody else in your life. Brigid always encourages me and tells me that I have to try things. I’m lucky to have a good wife.”

His younger brother Gerard, who once captained the Irish team, said that while he hopes to make it big, his culture will always take precedence.

“If I ever get rich, I’ll buy up a few trailers and maybe a nice car, but I’ll always hold onto my culture. The fact that we all live together in such a small space means that we can’t stay mad at each other for long and we always have to make up. That’s something I don’t want to ever change.”

Coach Tommy Kelleher praised the boys’ dedication.

“They are always polite and punctual. You could take them anywhere,” he said.

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