‘Irish’ Seanie Monaghan is a professional boxer with a current record of twenty-two wins and zero losses, currently ranked number four in the world. He competes in the light heavyweight division and is looking forward to a title shot against current belt-holder Juerghen Braehmer of Germany sometime in the fall. Before turning pro at age 26, Seanie worked as a bricklayer. Now 32, Seanie talked to Sensa Nostra about who he is and why he loves boxing.
Respect is everything in boxing. Most guys that find their way into a boxing gym have been through some rough times and have a lot of hostility inside. For me personally, before I started boxing I really had nothing special going for myself. I was messing around, getting into bar fights, street fights, doing drugs, drinking. My friend Bobby Calabrese, who was my right-hand man in a lot of street fights, told me I should box for real and took me to a gym at the Freeport Police Athletic League. I was hooked immediately.
Now that I found boxing and the feeling it gave me, somebody would have to kill me in the ring to take that away from me. It feels great to be able to provide for my family and all my people. Even when sparring, guys might not be trying to kill each other, but they’re damn sure not gonna let the other guy get the better of them. Basically, boxing gives you a new respect for yourself and you have fight to keep it! Only one guy gets to leave the ring with his ego intact.
I got my first taste for fighting in front of a crowd by fighting out-of-towners on the beach at keg parties or on the street outside bars. I’m from a very unique place: the city of Long Beach, NY. Long Beach is an island attached to NY. We’re a breed of our own. LB is connected by two bridges to Long Island, and another one to Queens. We don’t really identify with either. It’s kind of a party/beach town in the summer. There were three or four mental institutions on the boardwalk when I was growing up, and when we were about thirteen we would get one of the people from the crazy home to buy us beer and we would all drink, smoke and hang out under the boardwalk. It sounds nuts, but that’s what we used to do.
Once I got a taste for fighting I was addicted – but before I found the proper outlet for it I got into a lot of trouble. A fight could be started by something as simple as a glance held for too long, or talking to somebody’s girlfriend. The fights usually didn’t start with me but more often than not ended with me. There were fifty or sixty over the years.I broke bones, got stabbed, arrested, all types of dumb shit. The last time, I threw a guy off my back who I didn’t know was a police officer. I haven’t drank or done any drugs since.
Nothing traumatic happened in my childhood. I was just raised by a bunch of Irish tough-guys who taught me never to take disrespect. The older Long Beach guys sort of had a tradition too, and we wanted to keep it up. Boxing has been a savior. It took me off the path I was going down and has given me a life I can be proud of. It feels good knowing I can protect myself and my family. As far as being barbaric—it is! There’s no denying that, but this is the life we all chose. Some people are accountants, and some punch each other in the face for money.
I try to keep as cool as possible before a fight. I’ve got more than enough anger inside of me. I don’t need to get myself all fired up and burn my energy before the fight starts. My friend Bobby, who I said brought me to my first boxing gym, was murdered after my first amateur fight. I feel like he’s calming me down. Once the bell rings, I try to keep a nice balance between anger and relaxation.
I’ve really turned my life around and get a lot of love everywhere I go. My parents come from Ireland, and I still have a lot of family and fans over there. Fighting is the only thing I’m really good at. Hopefully I retire with my health intact and as the best light heavyweight in the world.