Boxing: Rocky Ros Muc – the explosive story of Ireland’s forgotten boxing hero

Updated: November 13, 2013

An explosive new sports biography- in Irish -  by journalist Rónán Mac Con Iomaire, Rocky Ros Muc:Seán Ó Mainnín (Cló Iar-Chonnacht, €15), tells the story of one of the greatest boxers ever to come out of Ireland.

Raised in Ros Muc in the heart of Connemara, Seán Ó Mainnín’s boxing talents would bring him to the dizzying heights of Madison Square Garden in New York.

 “I’ve only ever had two fighters that could take any sort of punch thrown at them, Muhammed Ali and Seán.”

-         Angelo Dundee, world champion trainer


In 1984 he fought future Hall of Fame boxer, Mike McCallum for the WBA World Light-Middleweight Title and lost. He descended into a deep depression after the fight and despite further opportunities and being coached by Muhammed Ali’s trainer, Angelo Dundee, he never won the championship title his talent demanded.


Rónán Mac Con Iomaire worked closely with Seán Ó Mainnín to tell the dramatic story of his battles both inside and outside the ring. The book recounts how: Seán trained and sparred with what can only be described as Whitey Bulger’s inner circle of henchmen. He was asked a number of times to get involved in Bulger’s drug-running and extortion schemes but refused. In 1983 Seán became the US Light-Middleweight champion, ahead of Tommy Hearns, Mike McCallum and a host of other boxing greats. In 1986, Seán actually fought and beat the WAA Light-Middleweight World Champion, Bert Lee, but because of a dispute over sanctioning fees, he was not recognised as the World Champion.


Mac Con Iomaire, said of writing the book, “I knew that Seán Ó Mainnín had lived a fascinating life. I didn’t realise just how fascinating until I began the research. When you consider that he won the U.S. middleweight title and fought for the world title at the most competitive time for that weight band in the history of boxing, he has to be counted among Ireland’s greatest boxers.”


Shortly after his return home , he said : “I earned just just $3,000 for beating the number one contender and my share of the purse for the McCallum fight was just $20,000, whilst fighters I would have beaten like Mustafa Hamsho earned $500,000 in his defeat to Marvellous Marvin Hagler.

I went to the U.S. first in 1974 as a 17-year-old worked out there stayed until Christmas and returned when an uncle died. I came back worked in a factory in Rath Cairn, Co Meath and returned to the States in 1977. My brothers and sisters were there. There were twelve of us in the family and at one time or another we were all in America”.


Journalist, Rónán Mac Con Iomaire, as many of our readers will know, is an award-winning author and broadcaster, and is Leascheannaire (Deputy Head) of RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, Ireland’s national Irish language radio station.

Rónán was awarded the New Writer of the Year award for his work on the book at the Oireachtas Literary Awards in October, 2013.

Prior to his role as Leascheannaire in Raidió na Gaeltachta, Rónán spent many years in print and broadcast journalism, working for RTÉ and Independent News & Media, among other media organisations.

He is a keen runner and triathlete and in 2010, founded TríSpórt, a triathlon club for the Connemara and Aran Islands area.He lives in the Galway Gaeltacht village of An Cheathrú Rua with his wife, Máirín, and two sons, Marcas and Cóil.

Sean’s many friends in the Boxing community will no doubt join RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta broadcaster, Seán Bán Breathnach, who will launch Rocky Ros Muc: Seán Ó Mainnín in Tigh Mhico, Ros Muc, Co. Galway, on Friday, 6 December at 8.00p.m. Galway County Councillor, Seosamh Ó Cuaig, will be the MC on the night.


And finally, a reminder, that this excellent biography - Rocky Ros Muc: Seán Ó Mainnín is written in Irish.



  1. Pat

    12/08/2013 at 9:51 pm

    Lost to a legend in mc Callum who was in his prime pity he never got the chance to fight on the sky circuit with benn Eubank Collins and Watson. He was every bit as good as Collins but the difference was he had to stay in the US whereas Collins had the opportunity to go to the Uk to win his world title.

  2. Pat

    12/08/2013 at 9:53 pm

    Is the book available in English?

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