Omagh’s Dee Taggart was a pro fighter around the turn of the decade and a member of the famous ‘Breen Team’. The Tyrone puncher’s career would not turn out as he had hoped and he would fall on hard times but Taggart is now living in Liverpool, doing well, and still involved in boxing, doing work in numerous gyms.
Taggart was back in Ireland last month for the MHD ‘A Night To Remember’ card. Breen Team for life, Taggart helped out in the corner as the gym crowned its latest champion and Dee has penned this quite poignant behind-the-scenes piece for us.
MOMENTS – BY DEE TAGGART
Boxing gave me yet another ‘moment’ in the changing rooms of Belfast’s famous Ulster Hall last month
It seems that, even though my own career is over – and that I can say and write that now is real progress for me – my whole life still kind of revolves around boxing.
My old coach and good friend John Breen was at it again, he had a fighter, “Fearless” Feargal McCrory, fighting for the Irish lightweight title. I have been coaching myself for the last few years and have always kept in touch and used the opportunity when I could to help and work with John and Eamonn Magee. The fact is, it’s both invaluable and a privilege.
So, here I was, back at another boxing show in Belfast and in the changing room of another Tyrone man chasing his own fistic ambitions.
One of my friends from school at the CBS used to always jokingly talk about how he could give us wee “moments” of magic during games of football in PE. As I got older I’ve used that analogy a lot, about how in life you can capture these wee “moments” that are special and will stay with you forever. For Culsu in PE it was a step over past a defender and a wee dink over the keeper to score a winner. As I got older, the moments became more poignant, and a lot of them involved and were captured in boxing.
“Boxing is the truth game, one way or another you will bare your soul.”
The fights had started, the usual craic in the changing room had passed and the mood had become more serious, intense, and meaningful, with John Breen leading the way. Feargal had been wrapped, gloved up, and was just starting to warm up on the pads with the old fight veteran and teacher.
The sound of the cracks, bangs, and piercing thuds on the pads were both real and ominous. It’s not common in today’s fluffy society to witness the brutal violence that is involved in the art of professional pugilism.
I was there assisting John and keeping an eye on things when suddenly Feargal stopped and quietly walked over to me.
“Dee will you go over to my bag, I have a picture of my wife and wee girl in it, and a card she made me me at school on the top. Take them out and stick them up on the wall for me please”
I went to the bag and did as he asked, the photo of his wife Genevieve and his baby girl Aoife was beautiful. I stuck it on to the mirror in front of where Feargal was hitting the pads before picking up the card wee Aoife had made at school for her dad and stuck it beside the photo. On the front of the card she had drawn a picture of Feargal and written ‘you are my HERO Daddy!’
When I had finished, Feargal walked right over and stared at the photo and card, he stood right in front of them.
I was stood right behind Feargal and watched as he was suddenly standing dead still, sweat dripping from him, looking right at his young family, and reading his wee daughters card. I could see and feel Feargal’s emotion, love, and sincerity. It was so unique and startling even, to have such a soft, honest, beautiful moment in such a brutal and visceral scene.
Fighters always have a reason, a motivation, a ‘why’, and as Feargal was looking into the eyes of his before battle commenced, The Truth game had just given me another beautiful “Moment”.
Then John Breen quipped “Feargal, son,” with his own unique grovel and we all started the ring walk together…