Rinty Monaghan

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Real name John Joseph Monaghan
Nickname(s) The Singing Irishman/Rinty
Rated at Flyweight
Height 5 ft 3 in (1.60 m)
Reach 64 in (163 cm)
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 69
Wins 52
Wins by KO 19
Losses 9
Draws 8
No contests 0

John Joseph "Rinty" Monaghan (21 August 1918 – 3 March 1984) was a world flyweight boxing champion from Belfast. He became famous in the post-war period, eventually rising to become undisputed world champion and a hero to many people in his home city.

Boxing career[edit]

Born in Lancaster Street in north Belfast. Monaghan attended St Patrick's Christian Brothers' School in Donegall St. A noted fighter at boys' level, he entered the paid ranks in his mid-teens. After a short period of wartime service, Monaghan resumed his career and his burgeoning reputation drew huge crowds from all parts of his home city. In particular, bouts at Belfast's King's Hall were the highlight with that venue normally packed to the rafters.

In October 1947, the National Boxing Association world crown became his after outpointing the American, Dado Marino at Harringay Stadium for the vacant title. The mantle of undisputed champion of the world rested on his shoulders after his defeat of the tough Scottish fighter Jackie Paterson on 23 March 1948.[1] Paterson was to prove one of the Belfast man's major adversaries.

By the time that a long-standing chest complaint forced his retirement as champion in 1950, Monaghan's trophy-cabinet contained the British, European, Commonwealth and World crowns. Of the 66 official bouts he fought during his illustrious career, he won 51, drew 6 and lost 9. Monaghan endeared himself to his supporters after his fights by singing When Irish Eyes are Smiling to the King's Hall audience, which joined in the singing.

Life outside boxing[edit]

A part-time cabaret artist, Monaghan toured western Europe during World War II with other notables of the period including Vera Lynn, Gracie Fields and George Formby, and later formed his own band.[2]

His nickname "Rinty" came from his fondness for dogs. According to his daughter Martha, he brought home injured dogs so often that his grandmother called him Rin Tin Tin, after the film dog, and shortened it to Rinty.[3]

Monaghan married Frances Thompson in 1938 and moved to nearby Sailortown. He had three daughters, Martha, Rosetta and Collette, and one son, Sean. In later life he had a variety of jobs but remained true to his working-class roots and stayed in Belfast. He died at his home in Little Corporation St in March 1984, at the relatively young age of 65.

To mark the influence of this "home-town hero", the Ulster History Circle and Belfast City Council provided a plaque in his honour at the King's Hall that was unveiled, in the presence of many of his family circle and friends, on May 3, 2007.

Belfast City Council erected a statue to Monaghan at Cathedral Gardens on 20 August 2015. The 10 foot high bronze statue on a granite plinth was designed by Alan Beattie Herriot and features Monaghan holding a microphone and singing "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" <http://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/statue-boxing-legend-rinty-monaghan-9893604>

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rinty Monaghan - Lineal Flyweight Champion". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia. 
  2. ^ "Boxing legend's life story" Irish News (Belfast newspaper), October 8, 2008, p. 3
  3. ^ "Irish eyes are smiling again for hero Rinty" Irish News (Belfast newspaper), May 3, 2007, p. 13

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Jackie Paterson
World Flyweight Champion
1947-10-20 – 1949-09-30
Succeeded by
Terry Allen

Further reading[edit]

  • Eamonn O'Hara, Rinty: the story of a champion (Belfast, 2008)