Muhammad Ali’s grandson joins the fight to help a popular SW Side trainer
BY EVAN F. MOORE Correspondent June 26, 2014 10:18PM
Nico Walsh and Thomas Hayes exchange blows for a charity boxing event in Merrionette Park Thursday, June, 26, 2014. | Jim Boyce/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 27, 2014 6:13PM
The “Sweet Science,” better known as boxing, has been good to Martin McGarry.
A Golden Gloves champion and the longtime proprietor of McGarry’s Gym in Chicago’s Beverly community, McGarry trained many other Golden Gloves champs, state champs and Olympian Montell Griffin over 40 years and sponsored boxing events as fundraisers at local schools.
McGarry, who learned to box in Ireland, turned his garage into a boxing ring and training gym, where countless neighborhood kids came to learn the sport over the years.
“The priests in Ireland started a boxing club in our village,” he said. “I wanted to help kids get the same opportunities I got.”
Some of the people whom McGarry has helped over the years through his boxing gym decided to help him raise money for a cause that’s near and dear to his heart.
The Celtic Youth Foundation, the charitable arm of the Celtic Boxing Club in Mount Greenwood, held a boxing exhibition Thursday night at 115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park to raise money for the Martin McGarry Service to Scholarship Fund. Ten bouts of three, one-minute rounds were held.
The scholarship fund will cover annual tuition for a student who attends St. Barnabas Catholic School in Beverly.
McGarry, 63, a retired pipefitter, is battling an incurable disease called familial amyloidosis, a rare hereditary disease that claimed the lives of his mother and two brothers.
He said that at this point in his life, he still wants to help others.
“It’s great to help a kid get a Catholic education. I’m really honored to have a scholarship in my name. It’s very humbling,” he said.
Rasheda Ali-Walsh, Muhammad Ali’s daughter and mother of Nico, 13, who fought in Thursday night’s event, echoed McGarry’s sentiments.
“We need as much support as possible. Marty McGarry is a fixture in Chicago boxing history for 40 years. I’m hoping that the more support we get, we can have this every year,” Ali-Walsh said.
Tashiee Johnson, of Chicago, had three her sons, George, Walker and Trevon, box in the event. She said boxing has been as tremendous help to her and her sons.
“The boxing has helped them out tremendously. It keeps them focused on school,” she said. “I really appreciate what they are doing to keep the kids off of the streets.”
McGarry is also thankful for the people who came out to support the fundraiser.
“It’s great they haven’t forgotten about me,” he said. “It’s great they came out to help me with my situation.”
For more information, contact the Celtic Boxing Club at (773) 779-7266.