John 'Rinty' Monaghan: Famous Irish & Belfast Boxer
Ireland, for a small nation in population, has punched above its weight in boxing rings for over one hundred years. Boxers such as Belfast Flyweight, John Joseph ‘Rinty’ Monaghan, loom large on the horizon when searching for Hall Of Fame subjects. The Belfast boxer, born 21st March 1918, at Lancaster Street, had boxing on his daily diet of sporting activity and as a young boy he witnessed many tough ‘street’ boxing contests. In Belfast of the 1920's, these street fights were organised as a means to discovering new upcoming raw talent. At fourteen and now left primary education, John Joseph was winning several boy contest fights and earning a few bob for his exploits. Just out of his teens at twenty, he married local woman, Frances Thompson, and the couple reared a family of four children, three daughters and a son. The family spent their life living in a modest dwelling in the docks vicinity of Belfast city
On turning to professional ranks he won all his flyweight bouts until he came up against Glaswegian boxer, Jackie Patterson, who knocked him out. The advent of World War 2 impacted greatly on sport at all levels and Rinty Monaghan was caught up in the trauma and had to seek a life outside boxing to earn a living. In 1945 Rinty again entered the ring and duly won the Ulster Flyweight title by knocking out his opponent. The Belfast boxer rose to trojan heights in London in 1947 when he floored great London boxer, Terry Allen, in the first round.
Another career milestone was achieved when once again Rinty faced Glaswegian, Jackie Patterson, in a rematch contest for the World Flyweight title. With a great knock out victory, Rinty was now making world sporting headlines and in historic records he became the first boxer from Northern Ireland to win a world boxing title. The sporting icon also possessed a beautiful singing voice and to celebrate his victorious bouts, Rinty would always entertain his loyal fans with a great rendition of ‘When Irish Eyes Are Smiling’.
His glorious flyweight world title was successfully defended in April 1949 and he also duly claimed the European Flyweight title.
In a further Belfast contest, with his titles on the line, Rinty escaped against Terry Allen with a draw verdict that enabled him to retain his titles. At thirty two years old, despite one hundred and eighty bouts, with sixty six officially recorded and fifty one wins, six draws and nine losses, Rinty Monaghan did not reap the financial fruits of his boxing career. Tax demands and book-keeping records stripped the Belfast icon of his wealth and he then turned to the entertainment business singing in clubs and hotels to earn a living.
On the 3rd March 1984, Rinty Monaghan succumbed to a long time illness and was buried at Belfast City Cemetery. He died with the honour of retiring from boxing as the undefeated flyweight world champion.