From the convent to the cruise ship – Christina McMahon aiming to add another chapter in 2017

If all had gone to plan, Christina McMahon [7(3)-2(0)] should have been waking up today with the WBA super flyweight title. However, just like most things in her career, the plan would go out the window.

The Monaghan 42 year old has had a topsy-turvey career since turning pro in 2010, bringing her from Carrickmacross, to Zambia, to New York, to Mexico. The journey was meant to reach it’s apex last night at the National Stadium in Dublin, but it wasn’t to be, with champion Linda Laura Lecca withdrawing from their title fight.

For McMahon though, it’s all part of the journey.

Many would be disheartened, especially if they had suffered the continued setbacks that McMahon has, but for the Ulsterwoman it is just another plot twist in what has the potential to be the greatest boxing movie ever made.

McMahon got over the disappointment of the cancellation quickly and is already back training and hoping for another title shot in the new year as she searches to give her story the happy ending it deserves.

As crazy as some of her stories are, ‘Lightning’ doesn’t view herself as extraordinary in any way and instead feels that she is just one of many phenomenal stories in the tough world of women’s professional boxing.

“It’s been tough since I started my career, since I entered the Top 10, but I don’t have any regrets,” she told

“At one stage I was meant to go to Morocco for a fight, so I took time out of work to train. I lived with the nuns in the Adoration Church in Belfast on the Falls Road for nearly six weeks, something people wouldn’t know.”

“I learnt a lot about myself then, living in a convent and then going to a boxing club to train!”

“But the girls I’ve shared the ring with, they all have their own story. I’ve shared the ring with some fantastic stories, it’s not just my story. I’ve been part of so many fantastic stories and that goes much bigger than boxing and I don’t regret any of that.”

“The African girl [Catherine Phiri], she came from the slums and went to the top of the world, she went on to win the World title since we fought.”

While McMahon has suffered numerous disappointments in her career, it has not been wasted time, and the gym junkie has continued to improve. Her most recent spell of training was altogether more glamorous than her monastic time spent in Belfast, with the cheerful fighter having a camp courtesy of Ryan Tubridy.

McMahon explained that “my mam won a holiday on the Late Late Show last May, just after I got back from Mexico [where she controversially lost to Zulina Munoz],and she felt sorry for me I think because she booked myself and my dad and my husband [and trainer, Martin] for cruise in Hawaii.”

“The fight date [v Lecca] was announced after the holiday was booked so I had a training camp on a cruise! I’m afraid it was a very difficult holiday, I didn’t have a holiday, I was training,” laughed McMahon.

“I came home healthy and fit. Martin and my dad were at the buffet, they ate for me!”

It’s been a long road, but it’s all money in the bank. All that McMahon need now is the right chance – and we will, hopefully, finally, get to see the journey come good next year.

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: