Books sell out at launch of Rocky Ros Muc
Friends and relations of Seán Ó Mainnín at the launch of his book. From left: Teresa Uí Chuaig, Tommy Mellett, Paddy Ó Mainnín (Seán's brother); Maureen Mulkerrin, (Seán's wife); Paul Mulkerrin, Josie Mellett (Seán's sister); Rocky Ros Muc book author Ronán Mac Con Iomaire, Nóirín Nee (sister), Nellie Uí Mhainnín. Pic: Seán Ó Mainnín (no relation).
More than 300 books were sold at the launch of Rocky Ros Muc, a new book which tells the story of one of Ireland’s greatest boxers Seán Mannion.
The biography, written by RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta deputy head, Rónán Mac Con Iomaire, was launched last Friday by broadcaster Seán Ban Breathnach in Tí Mhaidhcó in Mannion’s home village of Ros Muc. Such was the attendance on the night that all of the books brought to the venue for the occasion were sold out with many more signing up for books to be sent out to them.
The new sports biography recounts how Mannion’s impressive boxing talents brought him from Connemara to the dizzying heights of Madison Square Garden in New York. 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.
The book reveals Mannion’s battles both inside and outside the ring, recounting how Mannion trained and sparred with notorious Boston gangster James ‘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 Mannion became the US Light-Middleweight champion, ahead of Tommy Hearns, Mike McCallum, and a host of other boxing greats. Three years later Mannion 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.
Speaking at the launch, Mac Con Iomaire said that while Seán Mannion was not that well known in Ireland as a boxer, he was extremely well-regarded in the US, after years seen fighting on ESPN and HBO in locations such as Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and New York.
“This is a man that won the US Light Middleweight Championship in 1982 during the most competitive era in that weight division's history. Seán Mannion fought some of the best boxers in the world, challenged for the world title, and in all his 57 pro fights was never knocked down,” said Mac Con Iomaire, who added he hoped Mannion would receive the recognition he deserved for his achievements.
Launching the book, Seán Bán Breathnach said that Mannion was one of the greatest boxers to come not just from Galway but from Ireland. “For too long, Seán's achievements during the 80's haven't been recognised. The amount of research in this book truly shows up Seán's place among the boxing greats of time, among Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, and Roberto Duran,” he said.
Mannion, who is currently in Boston training former All-Ireland champion turned pro, Michael McLaughlin, recorded a special message for the night, saying he was sorry that he could not be present for the launch but that he hoped people would enjoy the book. He said: “It was very important to me that the book would be an honest reflection of my life and career, and I think that that's something Rónán has achieved.”
Among those attending the night were Seán Mannion's wife Maureen Mulkerrin and her son Paul, and much of the Mannion family, including Seán's brother Paddy, who spent years working in the corner during his brother's fight career. Also in attendance was Independent county councillor Seosamh Ó Cuaig.