The three-weight Irish champion, battling a brain tumor, who beat all odds — The true story of Peter McDonagh

With heart and determination, Peter McDonagh, has proved time and time again that he’s just as much of a fighter outside of the ring as he is in it.

Born in Galway, Ireland, the warrior moved to England at a young age, without being able to speak a word of the language. He battled through hard times, even surviving prison, en route to embarking on an incredible run in the professional ranks, which saw him win three Irish championships.

He lost his beloved sister along the way, and in her honour, he never let anybody beat him again. Ultimately, ‘The Connemara Kid’ is as tough and valiant as they come, and he recently opened up about his remarkable life in his book ‘Irish Blood and Grit’.

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Speaking exclusively to Sporf, he said: “I’ll tell you what, if you pick up a copy, you won’t be sending it back to Amazon; you might be passing it onto a family member, whether it’s your mother, your father, your son, your grandmother. I think my story resonates with a lot of people because this sort of stuff has happened in their lives.

“I’m a bit like a cat. I’ve got nine lives. I’ve had some crazy times in my life, ups and downs. The book isn’t really a boxing book; it’s funny, it’s an interesting book, to be honest with you. I talk about deep things, and all I want this book to do is for it to help others. I want people to say, ‘You know what? You’re an inspiration’.

“I’m going to start doing public speaking to try and help people, and I’ll tell you what, if you pick up a copy of this book and don’t shed a tear, then return it and get your money back. There are not many people who wouldn’t shed a tear reading it. 

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m dyslexic, but it’s done. It’s not written like a normal book; it’s more like a film script, so you can feel me on the page. I’ve been a three-weight Irish champion, boxed all over the world. But I’ll tell you one thing — Amazon Bestseller.”

Peter McDonagh has had an inspirational journey

The 45-year-old has travelled the globe, training with the likes of Tyson Fury, but his ego has never got the better of him. To his core, he has remained a humble fighter, willing to do his utmost to help other people. And in his tale, he revealed the moments that challenged him more than any man inside the ring ever could.

Speaking candidly, he said: “When I was writing it, my head was all over the place. It was a tough time. A lot had happened, down to the brain tumour, then four days later, my brother committed suicide. It was hard, but I’m already on volume two. People are telling me, ‘I want to know more. I was in a bad place while writing it, so maybe I skimmed over bits of it. I did show emotion, but I feel more emotion now.


“The book has everything: bullying, abuse, alcoholism, suicide, cancer. Let’s forget becoming a three-weight Irish champion. It’s mad, I had a successful career, but it’s only a little part of my life. I keep saying I don’t like it and want to get away from it, but it’s like a drug. It keeps pulling me back in.” 

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Peter McDonagh has started working in Influencer Boxing

While some purists despise the likes of Jake Paul and KSI making waves in the squared circle, McDonagh embraces it.

The ex-fighter explained: “I’m involved with the influencers now. I manage ‘Tempo Arts’. He’s a good heavyweight. I’m buzzing to be working with him. I think he’s got the ability to go somewhere.

“People say, ‘Why’ve you gone over to the dark side’? I’ve done it because when you speak to them, they stand with their mouths wide open; they want the experience and to listen to someone who’s been there.

“In professional boxing, people think they know it all. I believe a lot of them just follow a trend, they go to a backslapper’s gym, but they don’t venture out and spread their wings. 

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He continued: “I’m hoping to work with a big-name amateur, and I’m hoping to break the trend, because there’s no way in one million years, that anyone I work with is going to go into professional boxing and fight car cleaners or someone who’s been flown over on 24 hours’ notice. I’ll make them do it the hard way, but the right way.

“When we look at Oleksandr Usyk and Vasily Lomachenko, they did it right.

“We have fans of the boxer, not boxing, so when they watch their fighter, they’ll see a card with thoroughbreds vs donkeys, and they don’t become invested in the sport.

“In influencer boxing, we get two people at the same level, and we’re getting more entertaining fights.

“They’re not protected either. We’ve had King Kenny vs Whinersson, with 56 million followers, it’s not a business move, but they put them in together, which wouldn’t happen in the professional game. Whindersson would still be fighting a geezer with no arms.”

Peter McDonagh has left an incredible legacy

Some fighters find themselves in the ring through bad circumstances; others are born for it. McDonagh falls into the latter category.

He beamed: “Where is home? I’ll tell you where my home is, it’s in a boxing ring. Wherever that is around the world, that is my home. When I’m in a boxing ring, it’s more comfortable than sitting in the front room with a cup of tea. 

“The feeling is phenomenal. It feels like I’m on a private jet. We sign a contract, and when you do that, you’re doing it to fight. You don’t do it to dodge as many people as you can. I was different to other fighters because I had more trainers than JD Sports. I listened to the teachers and took no notice of the backslappers. 

“In my career, I went all around the world. I never learnt in the ring. I had 58 pro fights. But I can’t remember any of it. I learnt in the gym.”

“I was a 12-year sparring partner being told we want you to spar with hands down, hands here, hands there; that’s why I had to learn how to fight. Did I ever take it seriously? The Gomez fight I did, and I got an unbelievable win; then people said it was a fix, and I knew I was never going to get my opportunity in boxing. 

“I went on to win two more Irish titles, but I never reached that level. I boxed top fighters. But I never got a shot at winning one of those shiny belts like a European title. I beat four British champions; why didn’t I get a European title shot? 

“I’m real; what do belts mean? They mean nothing. Names are bigger to me.”

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Since retiring from the sport, McDonagh has started his popular YouTube channel, ‘Voice From The Corner‘ in which he gives all his unfiltered opinions on the crazy world of boxing.

He concluded: “When it comes to Floyd Mayweather, he does that tippy tappy stuff on the pads. For years, I said it wasn’t real. Then he comes out on Instagram saying he throws a jab and a left hook like everybody else.

“I’m good at picking fights. Nobody saw Liam Smith beating Chris Eubank Jr in four rounds. But I did. He’s being trained by Roy Jones, but he taught him more like Tom Jones. He should’ve put a Duracell battery in his back and told him to go to work. He’s not a thinking fighter, so you have to work with what you’ve got.”

“I always mention my amateur coach Steve Hiser. We need more people like him that if you cut them through the middle, they bleed boxing.”

You can order Irish, Blood and Grit, here.

Featured Image Credit: Peter McDonagh