WOMEN’S BOXING IS widely-accepted in Ireland today but as recently as 20 years ago, it was illegal.
Drogheda-born Deirdre Gogarty, the country’s first female world champion, is a pioneer of the sport and also a major influence on Olympic gold medallist Katie Taylor.
Tonight, the fascinating Girl On The Undercard — a documentary about Gogarty’s career and the impact she had on changing the perception of women’s boxing — airs on RTÉ2 (8pm). It was originally shown earlier this year on Setanta Sports.
“You need heroes growing up and she was definitely one of mine,” says Taylor. “It’s boxers like her that have paved the way for the likes of us. I don’t think women’s boxing would be where it is today without the likes of Deirdre Gogarty.
“When I started boxing as an 11-year-old, Deirdre was the only female boxer that I knew of and was the only one in Ireland at the time. Everyone in the boxing world knew who she was and she was a huge influence on my career.
It’s because of her that I’m here where I am today really.”
These days coaching in the US, Gogarty was first drawn to the sport after watching Barry McGuigan in action on television.
As IABA rules prevented her from fighting, Deirdre’s early bouts took place underground in pubs and basements. That was until she heard about Beau Williford’s gym in Louisiana and moved to America to pursue her career.
On 16 March, 1996, she was offered the chance to fight on the undercard of Mike Tyson v Frank Bruno in Las Vegas. Gogarty took on Christy Martin and put on a display which not only won over the crowd but brought credibility to women’s boxing and paved the way for fighters like Taylor.
The fight has even been called the female version of ‘Thrilla in Manila’.
On Katie’s gold medal win at the London Olympics, Gogarty says:
“It was just a great moment because I kind of felt like it was a victory for me as well. To be able to see her go and do something like that. Something that I would have loved to have done but it just wasn’t meant to be so her doing it was a victory for me also.”
Watch the trailer below:
– First published 10.00