Joe Gallagher: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

By Sean Ness on June 17, 2015
Joe Gallagher: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
You can have all the boxing skill in the world but without dedication you are nothing.

It’s clear as day that the United Kingdom has a fighting spirit, it’s in our genes and intertwined with our DNA…

The United Kingdom is bursting at the seams with exceptional talent in the sport of boxing. It isn’t a statement but a naked truth and behind every great fighter is a great boxing coach. There are British fighters based in Spain under the watchful eye of MGM Marbella and its coaches. You have Rob McCracken, the trainer credited with developing Carl Froch into a world champion as well as being involved with the British Olympic boxing team. The Dark Lord, Adam Booth is responsible for delivering success to David Haye, George Groves and Andy Lee. Scotland’s Billy Nelson took Coatbridge fighter Ricky Burns from being an average bloke to a two-weight world champion. Brendan and Dominic Ingle have consistently produced exceptional fighters such as Johnny Nelson, Prince Naseem Hamed, Ryan Rhodes and Kell Brook in the “Steel City” of Sheffield. Jimmy Tibbs is also a notable name worth mentioning when talking about formidable boxing coaches in my country.

It’s clear as day that the United Kingdom has a fighting spirit, it’s in our genes and intertwined with our DNA. A man who is recognized for being a successful coach in the sweet science of boxing is a citizen of the famous City of Manchester. It is the home of Joy Division/New Order, Manchester City Football Club, The Smiths, Stone Roses, Happy Monday’s, legendary nightclub The Hacienda, The Charlatans, Buzzcocks, Oasis, Tony Wilson, Martin Hannett and Factory Records. It’s also home to some of the most famous names who’s worked in boxing such as Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, his brother Matthew, John Murray, Robin Reid, Jamie Moore, Michael Gomez, Anthony Farnell and Joe Gallagher.

Born in Manchester to Irish parents, Joe’s first interest in combat sports came about when he got involved in karate at Primary School becoming a brown belt in the process. However, upon a chance, the young Joe Gallagher was made aware of a boxing club in Manchester that was about to open its doors to the local community. It wasn’t long before he was swapping his karate gi for the lace and leather of a boxing glove.

In 1979, Joe joined Wythenshawe Forum ABC under the watchful eye of Jimmy Egan. His first competitive fight was against Kevin Morgan at the Langley Spartan show with Joe outpointing the Gallagher Boy’s ABC fighter to record his and Jimmy’s first win for their club. Having cut his teeth in boxing under Jimmy Egan, the young Joe Gallagher had his eyes set firmly on a new club to continue learning his craft. Moss Side ABC was soon gaining the reputation as a no-nonsense victorious boxing club. Its members were more men than boys, but that didn’t put the ever eager Joe off, in fact, it only made him more determined to establish himself at the club recognizing it as the next step in his boxing career.

At the age of 16, Joe walked through Phil Martin’s Moss Side ABC’s doors and it was the beginning of a relationship that would shape him into the ever reliable, hard-working boxing coach that he is today. The Mancunian racked up 60 amateur fights, laying down the foundations for what was to become his greatest career choice in the mould of a top boxing coach under the stewardship of one-of-two mentors in his life, Phil Martin.

In 1993, Joe Gallagher developed from a boxer into an amateur boxing coach, passing his knowledge of the fight game to various amateur boxing clubs including Moss Side ABC, Shannon’s ABC and Benchill ABC among others. Before his career in the professional ranks came to fruition, the prosperous Joe was producing champions in the Schoolboy, Junior ABA, NABC, Novice and Senior ABA titles. It was crystal clear that his time spent “chewing the fat” with Phil Martin was starting to pay dividends with his stock in the boxing game steadily rising.

“Maybe it’s the mentality of where we came from” said Joe. “We came from nothing and we had f**k all. When I was at Benchill, we had nothing. It was one of the most deprived areas in the country and Wythenshawe was the biggest council estate it Europe. When you walked into Moss Side, it was like Rocky 3 when he entered Apollo Creed’s gym, you had to earn your respect there and those guys had the eye of the tiger. I seen loads of talent walk through those doors and after a week or two, they walked away. It was too hard for them. You had to prove it, those where the challenges and I was proud I was part of that.”

In the past, Joe has mentioned that coming from a non-privileged background to where he is today wasn’t a fluke but through his own belief in sheer determination, dedication and a never-say-die attitude backed by the teachings of Jimmy Egan and Phil Martin respectively, he has been able to maintain a tremendous record in terms of his career goals and objectives he has set himself as a coach. Through various interviews that I have watched over the years, it is refreshing to see a man whose main goal in life is to enrich another. I mean how many boxing coaches would risk the opportunity of attending the birth of their child in order to be available for his fighter?

Joe spoke to his wife about the impending arrival of their son and being there for his fighter. “You’re there with all the physicians, all the doctors and medical staff; I said who is going to be there for Scott Mann? He’s a 13-year-old kid, this is his world and it’s what he’s worked hard all year for.”

In September of 2008, Joe Gallagher took over Ricky Hatton’s former trainer Billy Graham’s old gym before relocating to Amir Khan’s Gym in Gloves ABC community centre, Bolton. In the past, Joe has trained some notable names in the boxing game. One individual who sticks out is Matthew “Mack the Knife” Macklin. The Irish Brummie won the British and European titles under Gallagher however he was unable grab the world title losing by a contentious decision in Germany against WBA champion, Felix Sturm. Matthew Macklin left Joe’s stable to relocate to America before settling on his old arch nemesis in the ring and now retired, Jamie Moore, as his coach. Some people will argue that with Joe Gallagher in his corner, Matthew Macklin was a different kind of animal than the one today.

“Joe Gallagher was the most meticulous and hard working. Unlike Buddy (McGirt), Joe was always on at the fighters and Matt probably had his best performances under Joe.”—Bradley Saunders

With a dedicated team around Gallagher’s Gym, it is no wonder that Paul Smith, Stephen Smith, Liam Smith, Callum Smith, Anthony Crolla, Scott Quigg and Scott Cardle are battling for honors on the domestic, European and world stage. These are just some of the names under Joe Gallagher’s supervision who have all credited him with the success that they have achieved in their careers to date and in 2011 his fighters went on a winning streak taking his record to 49-0, a massive achievement by anyone’s standards.

You can have all the boxing skill in the world but without dedication you are nothing. Joe Gallagher’s mantra has turned fighters like Anthony Crolla and Scott Quigg into some of the biggest names in the sport. The fighters themselves should be given credit for their achievements, but I firmly believe that without their dedicated coach by their side, their careers might not be so vibrant. In a world which includes Freddie Roach, Floyd Mayweather Sr., Robert Garcia and Virgil Hunter, Britain’s formidable Joe Gallagher is standing on the shoulders of giants.

“And my enemies all know my name
And when you hear me tap on yer window
Yer better get on yer knees and pray panic is on the way”
—Oasis/Gas Panic

Follow Sean Ness on Twitter at https://twitter.com/misterness84

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

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  1. peter 06:23am, 06/18/2015

    Excellent article about a remarkable man. Thank you.

  2. SeanNess 01:27am, 06/18/2015

    I’m a Rangers man but yeah City is my English team. Plus it’s the only team who come from Manchester haha.

  3. The Tache 04:49pm, 06/17/2015

    Nice Oasis reference in the title there, Sean. I’m guessing you’re not a United fan!!

  4. Kid Blast 07:01am, 06/17/2015

    I agree

  5. Laurena 04:57am, 06/17/2015

    Thank you, Sean, for this wonderful article. More attention should be given to the incredibly dedicated trainers, cut men, and support staff across the world. It’s often a thankless job filled with all sweat and no spotlight.

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