Rinty Monaghan – Belfast’s boxing hero

Published by P&P on

Home » People » Famous Folk » Rinty Monaghan – Belfast’s boxing hero
Rinty Monaghan - Belfast's boxing heros. Statue sited at Art College grounds, York Street, Belfast.
Rinty Monaghan statue, Art College grounds, York Street, unveiled on 20 August 2015 
© Copyright Albert Bridge and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Early Years

John Joseph ‘Rinty’ Monaghan was born on 21 st August 1918 at 23 Lancaster Street in north Belfast. His father was Thomas Monaghan, a sailor, and his mother was Martha Wilson. He was the eldest of 7 children, 3 boys and 4 girls. Rinty attended the Christian Brothers school in nearby Donegall Street but left at age 11 to be a dockside labourer.

Rinty began boxing as a boy in local street fights were the prize was a fish supper. He joined a rundown gym in Hardinge Street and turned professional flyweight boxer at 14. His first professional fight against Boy Ramsay at Belfast’s Chapel Fields ended in a draw. From then on however, he remained undefeated for the next 3 years.

Boxing Career and the War Years

Rinty’s boxing matches at the Kings Hall were extremely popular with Rinty singing ‘When Irish Eyes are Smiling’ after his fights, to the delight of the crowd.

When World War 2 broke out, Rinty enlisted in the Merchant Navy but was shipwrecked in 1941. He then worked as an ambulance driver in Belfast during the Blitz. In 1943 he formed a musical trio called ‘The Three Hillbillies’ and entertained the troops in Western Europe. He toured with other notable acts such as Vera Lynn, Gracie Fields and George Formby.

Post WW2 Career

After the War, Rinty resumed his boxing career and was very successful. Following victories over Eddie Doran and Englishman Terry Allen, in October 1947 Rinty defeated the American Dado Marino at Harringay Arena, which earned him an NBA title.

The following year he comprehensively beat his rival, Scotsman Jackie Patterson in Belfast to become the undisputed world flyweight champion. His home town went wild as thousands of his supporters celebrated and victory bonfires were lit in Corporation Street and York Street.

Rinty went on to successfully retain his titles, outpointing Maurice Sandeyron in April 1949 and so adding the European title to his achievements. However, Rinty was suffering from a long-term bronchial chest complaint and was forced to retire, undefeated, from the ring in 1950.

Life in Belfast

In 1938 Rinty married Frances Thompson. The couple lived at Little Corporation Street in Sailortown in the parish of St Josephs. They had one son Sean, and three daughters Martha, Rosetta and Colette. Although Rinty had made some money during his boxing career, he undertook a variety of jobs post-boxing including taxi driving and petrol pump attendant. He also worked as a cabaret singer and supported local charities with his performances.

Rinty continued to be a popular and entertaining figure around Belfast, as much loved for his optimistic and cheerful character as for his boxing prowess. Its said that John Joseph Monaghan got his unusual nickname ‘Rinty’ from his love of dogs. His mother called him Rinty after Rin Tin Tin the famous canine star of film and television, due to his habit of bringing home injured and stray dogs.

Rinty Monaghan died on 3 rd March 1984 from lung cancer. He is buried in Belfast City Cemetery. He had remained in his small dockside home until his death, true to his working-class roots. A genuine local hero.

Link to coverage of the fight between Rinty Monaghan and jackie Patterson uploaded to Youtube by Eamon McAuley
Watch coverage of the Monaghan/ Patterson fight
(Note: Opens in a new window and links to a video upload by Eamon McAuley)

Due to illness it is likely that BelfastEntries posts will appear less frequently for the near future. We hope to see things back to normal in coming months. P&P
Do you want to see all new BelfastEntries Posts?
If you like our Facebook posts and would like to see more then please add yourself as a friend to our PandP profile screen or follow our BelfastEntries page. We cannot add posts to all groups and the only way to be sure of receiving notifications of new posts is to follow our page. You will see that the Belfast Entries page has a 5 star rating from readers

If you enjoyed this article please consider a small donation

Belfast Entries is a husband & wife hobby website featuring articles on our shared history, memories and entertaining stories of our past. To help us meet rising website hosting costs please click the coffee cup below to learn how to make a small donation. Please note that every contribution is valued and that we will not contact you directly in order to respect your privacy.

Buy Us a Coffee
Buy Us a Coffee

Donations this month 4 🙂

Thank you Mrs O. B

Thank you Cathy

Thank you Anonymous

Thank you Irene

We had 2 donations last month

Help Us Find New Readers

If you like our posts please help us to grow our readership by sharing any posts that you like using the social media sharing icons shown with each post.

What are others reading now?

Galboly cottage view

Galboly – The County Antrim Village Lost in Time

By P&P / 30 September 2021 / 4 Comments
Mill chimney - a common sight in Belfast

Ardoyne – The Story of a Village

By P&P / 13 November 2021 / 2 Comments
Bodies Illustration at the scene Belfast Telegraph 13th March 1890

Nora’s Grave 1890 – Love & Death

By P&P / 19 March 2022 / 0 Comments
Belfast Long Bridge crossed the River Lagan between 1688 and 1841

Unusual Laws in Old Belfast 1613 – 1816

By P&P / 11 March 2022 / 0 Comments

Cost of Living Crisis

Given the current cost of living crisis that will impact so many in coming months we have added a page signposting organisations that may be able to offer support. We have no relationship with these organisations and cannot offer financial advice but we hope that some of the links may prove useful.

Ancestry Antrim Arthur Chichester artist Belfast Belfast Entries Belfast Family belfast roots Carrickfergus Castle Cemetery Church Clifton House County Antrim County Down Department Store Donegal education. family tree Famous Folk Forgotten folk Genealogy Ghost graveyard Historical places History Hotel Ireland Irish Census Records Irish Family Irish genealogy irish roots Mary Ann McCracken Operation Overlord Otto Jaffe Outlaw People Philanthropist Places to see Poor House Sailortown St Patrick Titanic Tourism United Irishmen

Belfast Entries posts & photos are our intellectual property and copyrighted to us. Where we use photos that do not belong to us, it is because we believe them to be in the public domain or shared under a Creative Commons licence with appropriate attribution. None of our content or images can be used without our consent. Note that a link to our Copyright & Takedown notice is included in the website footer on all pages.


We are a Belfast couple adding information on Belfast and the surrounding counties. Over coming months we will add a range of posts covering the people, places, products and stories that interest us and will hopefully be of interest to you. Over time we hope to build up information of use to locals & visitors alike and welcome your feedback on subjects of interest or stories that might be interest to the wider audience. Let us know what you think.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Would you like notifications of new Belfast Entries posts? OK No thanks