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On This Day: June 17th

1949: Mullingar’s Maxie McCullagh became the first Irish boxer to win a European gold outside of Ireland when he took top prize in Oslo, Norway. The lightweight southpaw, a 1948 Olympian, stormed to the final through wins over Hungarian Lajos Feher and Danish boxer Leif Madsen. In the final he was confronted by Frenchman Mohamed Aimee whom he defeated in a fight described at the time as being a “masterly display” of “brilliant footwork” and “rapier-like lefts.”

Also on this day in Oslo, Cork featherweight David O’Connell was awarded the bronze medal via jury. The Leesider had beaten Englishman Peter Brander and KO’d Yugoslavian Milivoj Bulat before being outpointed in the semi’s by France’s Jacques Bataille. Rather than bronze medals being awarded to both losing semi-finalists, the jury chose O’Connell over Finn Erkki Piispa to be the sole recipient of third prize.

1934: George Kelly defeated champion Billy Gilmore over fifteen rounds in a Dublin-Belfast battle at Tolka Park to claim the Irish lightweight title. Olympian Kelly would lose and reclaim the belt in fights with Billy Smith the following year.

2005: Belfast’s Kevin O’Hara lost out over ten rounds against Scot Willie Limond for the Celtic super featherweight title at the Kelvin Hall in Glasgow. ‘Sweet Pea’ was defeated 95-98 by the home fighter, being staggered in the second round, but fought back admirably to go the distance.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: