Less than 72 hours after winning the biggest fight of his career, undefeated junior middleweight James Moore, 15-0 (10 KOs), a native of County Wicklow, Ireland, who fights out of Queens, New York, addressed throngs of well-wishers at the monthly meeting of the Veteran Boxers Association, Ring 8, in New York.
Also addressing the general membership at the March 18 meeting was lightweight Oisin “Gaelic Force” Fagan, 21-5 (16 KOs), who scored a victory on the same show as Moore, esteemed cut man “Big” George Mitchell, who kept Moore in the ebb and flow battle, and WIBA female flyweight champion Eileen Olszewski, who just a few weeks prior had defeated the much more experienced Elena “Baby Doll” Reid in New York to win her first world title.
“I asked for a step-up fight, and that’s exactly what I got,” said Moore, who won a hard fought 10-round decision over J.C. Candelo, 27-10-4 (18 KOs), of Colombia, in the headliner of a March 15 show at Madison Square Garden’s WaMu Theater that was called “A Fistful of Shamrocks.”
“I trained very hard for this fight, and I’m glad I did,” continued Moore, who Ring 8 honored as a Future Champion at its February meeting. “This guy came to win, so my conditioning really paid off. I trained in the Pocono Mountains, where there were some very big hills. Still, I was able to run 6 miles in under 50 minutes. I don’t want any more easy fights because this is not an easy business. This was the toughest fight of my career.”
Moore’s father Jim, the head coach of the Irish national amateur team of which James was the longtime captain, was in attendance. He lauded his son’s stalwart efforts, but also had high praise for the United States and especially New York.
“If you want to be a pro fighter, you have to come to America,” he said. “James came here to pursue his dream, and he is moving forward at a good pace. I want to thank the American people for treating him so well.”
Mitchell heaped equally heady compliments upon the young Moore, when he explained the difference between a lion and a tiger. As ferocious as a tiger is, he said they will retreat when they are in a fight they know they cannot win.
Lions, on the other hand, will fight to the death. “You, James, have the heart of a lion,” he extolled. He later said it was an honor to work with such a “brave fighter” who came back to the corner after each round totally unruffled.
“You wouldn’t even know he was in a fight, he was so calm,” said Mitchell. “He is one cool character.”
With John Duddy on the mend after a particular tough fight a few weeks earlier, and Andy Lee’s shocking TKO loss to Brian Vera on March 21, Moore now finds himself front and center in the Irish resurgence of boxing in America.
His tremendous performance against Candelo, which had the near sellout crowd on its feet at the end, will go a long way in establishing him as an Irish superstar.
Fagan is a Dublin native who resides in Oklahoma City, where he works full-time as an elementary school physical education teacher. He stopped Brian Carden, 6-5 (4 KOs), of St. Joseph, Missouri, in the second round.
“Fighting at MSG was a dream come true for me,” he said. “It is something that I will never forget.”
If you saw Olszewski and her husband Matthew, a former professional kick boxer who retired with an undefeated record, walking on the street they’d look like any ordinary New York couple. They are a good looking pair who carry themselves with class, dignity and confidence.
Because they are so health conscious, they look much younger than their years. Besides their shared passion for fighting in the ring, they are in-demand personal trainers with a diverse clientele.
No one would ever peg the soft-spoken Eileen, a former dancer for the New York Knicks basketball team, as a boxer, even as she described the thrill of hearing her name announced as a new champion.
“I would have no trouble coming up here and dancing in front of you, but I’m still not comfortable speaking in public,” she said. “But thank you all so much for honoring me. It means so much to me.”
“Ring 8 is all about the fighters,” said Henry Wallitsch, a tough former heavyweight who serves as the president of Ring 8. “We help lots of retired fighters, but we also like to honor active fighters. It is great to see such fine young men and women as James, Oisin and Eileen representing the boxing game. It makes you realize the sport is doing okay.”
Among the items discussed at the Ring 8 executive board meeting, which was held prior to the general membership meeting, were:
The logistics involved in raising the funds for a statue to be erected on the grounds of the now defunct Sunnyside Gardens arena in Queens. Discussions centered on the possible dimensions size of the statue, as well as how Ring 8 members who fought at the fabled venue would go about having their names memorialized on the plaque.
The ongoing joint efforts between Ring 8 and the Jewish Association for Services for the Aged to assist a longtime member, whose deteriorating physical and mental condition might necessitate him being moved from his apartment to an assisted living facility.
The ex-fighter’s social worker, a lovely woman named Regine Borgella, was present for the membership meeting. As thanks for her genuine concern for the ailing fellow, she was given a bouquet of flowers.
Various fundraising activities, including the promotion of amateur boxing shows, cigar nights, and/or golf outings were discussed, as were the concerns over the interviewing of some Ring 8 members by two sets of documentary film makers.
Some members are worried that comments by individuals might be construed as being the opinion of Ring 8 as an organizational entity.
Ring 8 has been committed to helping indigent fighters for over 50 years. It will continue to do so, long into the future.
Anyone wanting to make a tax-deductible donation to Ring 8 can do so by mailing a check to:
Veteran Boxers Association
c/o Waterfront Crab House
2-03 Borden Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101