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Gogarty to be Inducted into IWBHF 2015 Class
by Bernie McCoy

IWBHF Press Release

 Deirdre Gogarty, who in the last decade of the previous century, showed the way forward for female boxers in Ireland, has been selected for induction into the 2015 class of the International Women's Boxing Hall of Fame along with seven luminaries from the sport. Entering the Hall on July 11, along with Gogarty, are former "modern era" boxers, Laila Ali, Laura Serrano, Jeannine Garside, Ann Wolfe and Terri Moss. Also in the 2015 class are Sparkle Lee, the first female referee appointed to the NY State Athletic Commission and Phyliss Kugler (posthumous) a pioneer female boxer in the 1950s. The ceremony will be held in the Crystal Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six in Fort Lauderdale, FL from 3:00 - 6:30 PM on Saturday, July 11. As with the initial 2014 ceremony, this year's induction will be held in conjunction with the National Women's Golden Gloves tournament.

"I'm thrilled to be selected for induction into the Hall of Fame. It's not only a great honor but it makes everything I went through, in and out of the ring, in order to become a professional boxer, worthwhile." That was Deirdre Gogarty's reaction to her upcoming induction when I spoke with her from her home in Lafayette, LA last week. (in the interest of accuracy it is now Deirdre Gogarty Morrison and the married former fighter recently gave birth to a baby boy,) Gogarty makes very clear her love of boxing came early. "Growing up I played other sports, but boxing was always the sport I was most interested in, the sport I focused on. I wanted to box. I was raised in a 'proper' family and each time I mentioned boxing, it was met, by my parents, with a great deal of dismay, if not outright discouragement. But I kept going to the gym in pursuit of the sport although, as far as my parents were concerned, I was simply 'working out' to keep in shape. When I finally broke the news to my parents that I intended to become a professional boxer, they were shocked, but I think they also understood that I was determined."

Getting off to a start in the sport at that particular time in Ireland proved to be another substantial hurdle. "I wrote letters to everyone I could think of who was involved in boxing," Gogarty recalls. "You have to remember that this was quite a time before Jane Couch broke on the scene in England and, for the most part, boxing 'for girls' was largely an underground sport. I had as my goal a bout with Sue Atkins who was the best known female boxer in the United Kingdom. But for me, an unknown, with little or no experience, that just wasn't going to happen. I did finally get in the ring with Jane Johnson, Atkins' successor and I beat her twice, (a TKO in April '92, an eight round decision in April '93)." Despite the successful start, it quickly became apparent to Gogarty that if she was to become fully active in the sport, her future lay not in Ireland but in the United States, where, in the early 1990s, the sport of Women's boxing was not only on the rise but about to burgeon onto the sport landscape.

Why Lafayette, LA? "Good question," Gogarty rejoinders, "the logical move might have been somewhere up North, but Lafayette it was and Lafayette it has been. It was here I found a wonderful coach, (ex fighter turned trainer) Beau Williford (of whom heavyweight contender, Chuck Wepner, once said, 'they don't make 'em any better than him') and I've been surrounded by Louisiana Cajuns instead of Boston Irish ever since. And I've been very happy with how it turned out."

Most boxing fans first remember Deirdre Gogarty as Christy Martin's opponent in the six round bout underneath Mike Tyson and Frank Bruno at the MGM Grand in March, 1996. It was the bout that put Martin on the cover of Sports Illustrated. For Gogarty, there was no magazine cover, but there was, over the next ten months, an eight bout winning streak that included a ten round decision over a then unbeaten Bonnie Canino in New Orleans which brought with it the WIBF featherweight title. The winning streak came to an end in January, 1998 when Gogarty lost a close ten round decision to Beverly Szymanski in an attempt to add the IWBF featherweight title. Not only did Gogarty lose the bout and the winning streak but she suffered an injury to her shoulder during the bout. For some athletes such an injury would have been a sign that the end was near. But this was the Irish girl who played several sports but knew that there was only one sport for her. This was the would be boxer who wore out the mailman with letters to "everyone I could think of " pleading for a chance in the ring. This was the novice fighter who left her homeland because her best opportunity in what had become her sport was across an ocean. The comeback? Didn't happen, but not for lack of trying. As Gogarty eulogizes, "I didn't officially retire until 2004. I kept trying to come back but all my fights kept falling through."

No story book ending there. But that doesn't mean there isn't a highlight reel. Gogarty recalls, "What I remember best is the featherweight title in Louisiana. Of course, there was a lot of hoopla around the Martin bout and I get asked about it all the time. But, those ten rounds for the featherweight title at the Lakefront Arena will always be at the top of the list." And that complete list for Deirdre Gogarty compiles to a record of 16-5-2 during her six and a half years in a professional boxing ring. And that record and that featherweight title was achieved during a time span when the sport of Women's boxing was attracting fan interest and media attention that is unlikely ever to be experienced again. And the final entry on that list will fittingly happen on July 11 in Fort Lauderdale FL when Deirdre Gogarty is inducted into the International Women's Boxing Hall of Fame.

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