Irish Fighters & Writers Recap: McDonagh, Moore Shea & Snipes

14.6.07 - By Christopher Roche: New York-Renaldo Snipes has a habit of turning up in the most unlikely of places. On November 6, 1981, the 25 year-old Snipes landed in Pittsburgh, PA on ABC’s Wide World of Sports to challenge Larry Holmes for the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Last night, in Lower Manhattan, Snipes participated in a panel discussion sponsored by the Irish Arts Center ( regarding Irish boxing history..

To the best of my knowledge, Snipes is not Irish, but it was a pleasure seeing him on the panel with fellow former heavyweight challenger Seamus McDonagh as well as current fighters James Moore and Maureen Shea. Also making the trip to downtown Manhattan were authors Peter Wood, Bobby Cassidy, Jr. and Jack Cavanaugh. In a very special appearance, all-time great Emile Griffith also dropped by to listen in on the discussion.

Not much was expected of the 25 year-old Snipes back in 1981, but he shocked the boxing world when he floored Holmes in the seventh round. According to Snipes, Holmes, was given 14 seconds instead of 10 to rise off the mat. Despite Holmes stumbling into the ring post, the fight continued, and Holmes retained his title for an amazing 11th time.

Just as Snipes landed some hard shots on Holmes, he got in some great barbs last night.
For example, when the three other fighters on the panel waxed poetically regarding the bonding experience and respect that occurs with opponents, Snipes said, “I do not know about all of this bonding with opponents. I did not talk to Larry Holmes for 20 years after our fight. I wanted to take his head off in the ring.”

McDonagh is most remembered nationally for his 1990 challenge against Evander Holyfield for the WBC Continental Americas Heavyweight Title. McDonagh was also a Madison Square Garden legend as a cruiserweight, and he packed the Garden’s Felt Forum with Irish themed boxing shows back in the 1980’s. McDonagh headlined an event on Saint Patrick’s Day in 1988 where he TKO’d Raymond Gonzalez. McDonagh also relayed to us that he once fought Barry McGuigan. McDonagh said he was 12 and Barry was 14. When asked who won the bout, McDonagh said, “I am not telling who won. But it was not him!”

McDonagh, a graduate of St. John’s University, now makes his home in San Francisco. However, he will be spending a lot of time in New York because he is starring in the off Broadway production “Kid Shamrock”, which is a one act play inspired by the life of former light-heavyweight contender Bobby Cassidy. The play was written by another member of the forum, the aforementioned Cassidy, Jr., who is the former contender’s son. The production opens on June 29th in New York City, and the event will also feature a segment with boxing analyst Steve Farhood.

The active fighters on the forum, Moore and Shea, are both undefeated, and they are two of the key players of Irish boxing in America. Moore is one of the most decorated amateurs in Irish History, and he said he is set to fight again on July 12 in the Bronx, NY. Shea, unlike the hard-charging Moore who normally pounds his opponents into submission, is a slick boxer who uses her footwork, hand speed and, of course, head movement, to defeat her opponents.

The evening began with a tour of the Irish Fighter’s Exhibit at the South Street Seaport Museum, where we were treated to a wide array of Irish Boxing memorabilia. The panel also showed clips ranging from Dempsey vs. Willard to Baer vs. Braddock to Shea vs. Villareal. We were also treated to clips of 1971 Golden Gloves finalist and panel member Peter Wood, who is now an author and teacher.

After the forum, Moore’s manager, Brian Burke, introduced me to undefeated Irish featherweight named Paul Hyland. Hyland, 22, recently made the trip over from Ireland, and he is looking for a fight this summer. Hyland sports a record of 8-0, 4 KO’s, and he is trained by Tracy Patterson. and will keep track of the young Hyland as he looks to make his mark here in America.

Article posted on 14.06.2007

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