Boxing fans may have heard of retired welterweight Peter McDonagh. His new book, Irish Blood and Grit has just been released and tells his life story in his own words; and what a phenomenal journey it is.

You might think this is just a book about a boxing career, but that’s far from the truth; Irish Blood and Grit is much more than the sport of boxing. The book explores the realms of human nature and takes you inside the strong-willed mind of Peter through some unimaginable experiences including being charged with attempted murder, hiding from gunfire at a weigh-in, being stabbed after a Millwall game on a cold Wednesday night and more recently, battling a brain tumour.

Every significant relationship he’s built from the age of six onwards shaped Peter’s life and will leave an impact on the reader. It ranges from new friendships being built on his estate in Bermondsey, to the pure love he has for his sister, Tish, who played a massive role in Peter’s life.  It will all leave a tear in your eye, but also remind you that good people do exist in the world.

Peter McDonagh was chucked into the deep end at the beginning of his life after moving from the beautiful scenery in Connemara to Bermondsey, South London. Being an Irishman moving to London at the height of tensions with the IRA wasn’t easy, and Peter endured bullying from day one. This was slowly moulding his fighting spirit every day and was the start of his boxing career after he found boxing coach Steve Hiser at Fisher Boxing Club. Steve brought a sense of community and looked out for Peter in an area where crime swallowed up many without hesitation.

Being the target of bullies, they were simply met every time Peter was put on the floor with the thought process of: “Is that all you got?.” This can be perceived as a bit of foreshadowing as the same attitude was carried into his fifty eight fights in his professional career where Peter picked up the Southern Area title, the Irish Title and challenged for the English and European Titles.

The suffering of mental health is present throughout, Irish Blood and Grit. and boxing falls into a complex category which Peter describes as self-harm. He would “accept pain from opponents” and depicts fighting as a form of coping and therapy. In his adventurous career, he would go on a big win streaks, losing streaks and everything in between. Long notice camps, short notice camps and humorous Guinness drinking in the aftermaths.

A profound bit of advice from Peter’s amateur trainer Steve Hiser, mentioned that once you’re in the professional game, you’re on your own. Peter recalled how true that being after suffering a defeat after selling hundreds of tickets, yet walking out of the venue alone in a lonely realisation. These experiences come with sharp anecdotes that will put a smile on your face.

After reading about Peter’s trauma and a number of passed away loved ones, the inspiration to keep going no matter what is prevalent and if anyone’s having a shit time, you should read this book. The fight isn’t over for Peter as I write this. His brain tumour is back despite a 15 hour operation in 2019 to remove it and needs all the support he can get as he struggles to function with his balance and only hearing from one ear.

After self-admitting he’s not been dealt with the best of cards in life, the message is to hopefully inspire someone more vulnerable than himself. I can’t wait for the sequel which was mentioned at the end of the book and is currently being worked on. I’m left wanting more. Keep on fighting Peter, like you have done your whole life.

Support Peter’s book by purchasing it on Amazon here

A charity of which Peter is a proud patron of is called ‘Niamh’s Next Step’ which supports children with Neuroblastoma. It’s close to his heart and can be found on social media @NiamhsNextStep or more information can be found via this link:


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