Boxer known as 'The Singing Irishman'
A professional fighter from the age of 14, John Joseph ‘Rinty’ Monaghan made his name in a series of thrilling world title fights which captivated the citizens of Belfast in the years immediately after the second world war.
Born in the docks area of Belfast on August 21, 1920, Monaghan began boxing as a child and fought in 22 professional fights before his eighteenth birthday. The second world war interrupted Monaghan’s promising career and he served in the British army for a time.
After the war Monaghan made the King’s Hall in the Balmoral area of Belfast his kingdom as the people of the city flocked to see him fight. He captured the NBA world flyweight title in October 1947, and became the undisputed world champion by beating the great Scottish fighter Jackie Patterson in March 1948.
Monaghan also delighted his fans by taking the microphone after fights to sing ‘When Irish Eyes are Smiling’ to the crowd, earning him the nickname of ‘The Singing Irishman’.
He went on to hold the British, European, Commonwealth and World flyweight titles, but chronic bronchitis caused him to retire while still champion in 1950. He then worked in cabaret, and later as a taxi driver and garage attendant, always living in the docks area of Belfast. He died at his Corporation St home in March 1984.