Page name: RR.Street Fighting Man [Logged in view]
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Street Fighting Man is the aptly-titled biography of Paddy Monaghan, AKA The Rough Diamond. For those of you who still don't know who he is, he was the Middleweight Champion Of The World in bare knuckle boxing, (BKB) an underground form of boxing without a proper ring or gloves which has always been banned by the Irish and British Boxing Boards Of Control and commonly recognised as the most brutal form of the sport. He is also more widely known as being the founder of the official Muhammad Ali Fan Club, being the man that originally coined the phrase "the people's champion" and almost single-handedly collated a petition of over 120,000 signatures demanding Ali have his boxing licence restored after it was revoked when he refused to fight in the Vietnam war. The book is a credit to Paddy, whose sheer will and determination shines through in every page (his writing is surprisingly articulate for a man who left school illiterate, and didn't learn to read or write until his mid-thirties) and details his life from a childhood of bullying and discrimination for being Irish through to his near-fatal heart attack almost ten years ago... when rather than going to the nearest hospital he decided to drive himself almost 200 miles home to ensure he saw his wife alive at least once more! In between the book explains the development of his close relationship with Ali, his marriage and family life as well as beautifully written accounts of almost every single one of his 114 undefeated matches, giving a punch-by-punch and bone-by-bone snapping gritty commentary that leaves the reader wondering how the hell he always got back up, and never gave up. This book is really awe-inspiring, and while it may not be everyone's cup of tea from a content point of view once you look past the violence and understand the motivation, dedication and effort that Monaghan puts into everything he does I think most people will finish the book just to do credit to Paddy, and to perhaps try and discover something that can drive them on in such a positive manner like him when everything and everyone else seems to be against them. If not, then perhaps they'll read it just to learn a little more about Muhammad Ali, not only from a friend's point of view but also (despite an illegal one) a fellow boxer.
PJR 12th June 2009
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