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Deidre Gogarty

5'6" featherweight "Dangerous" Deirdre Gogarty was born on November 10, 1969 in Drogheda in County Louth, Ireland.  Although she became a world champion pro boxer, she had one of her biggest fights outside the ring ... with the Irish Boxing Union, which would not sanction women's pro fights in her home country.  Ireland's loss was eventually Louisiana's gain, as this policy forced Deirdre to fight her entire pro career in other countries ... first in the U.K. and then in the U.S.A., where she settled in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Deirdre's family background didn't hint that she might be drawn into world championship boxing ... her father is an oral surgeon, her mother is a dentist, she has a sister who is a doctor, and a brother who directs an orchestra.  Nevertheless, Deirdre grew up watching Irish featherweight champion Barry McGuigan, and found she was drawn to the sweet science. 

Deidre initially went to England to fight as a professional boxer. She made her debut at the Elephant and Castle Center in London on June 30, 1991, winning a six-round decision over another debut fighter, Anne-Marie Griffin.

She defeated English female boxing pioneer Sue Atkins and twice overcame Sue's own protege Jamie (Jane) Johnson by TKO. Deirdre TKO'd Johnson in Johnson's own pro debut in the fourth round in London on March 8, 1992 and won an eighth-round TKO over her in London in a rematch on April 24, 1993.

Deirdre vs. Jamie (Jane) Johnson in England

"It was very apparent from the start that Deirdre was highly experienced and knew exactly what she was doing. I was too unfit and inexperienced to fight a girl like Deirdre in those days," Jamie Johnson told WBAN much later, in March 2002.

Deirdre's next move took her to the United States. She won first-round TKOs over two novices, Jane McGhee in Fort Smith, Arkansas on May 13, 1993 and Joanne McGovern on May 24, 1993.

Her next boxing stop was Kansas City, Missouri where she fought Stacey Prestage to a draw over six rounds on August 2, 1993. Prestage was 3-2-3 after this bout.

Dierdre knocked out debut fighter Andrea Lowe in the fourth round of a bout in Springdale, Arkansas on October 22, 1993, then faced Stacey Prestage again in Kansas City on November 22, this time losing a ten-round decision for the WIBF Super Featherweight title. Prestage fought the last rounds with a battered face and a bleeding, broken nose.

On March 11, 1994 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana Deirdre TKO'd debut fighter Carol Brown in the sixth round.

On April 8, 1994 in Fort Smith, Arkansas, she weighed in at 130 lbs and TKO'd debut fighter Missy Buchanan (134 lbs) in the first round.

On July, 22 1994 in Las Vegas, Nevada, she lost a four-round unanimous decision to Mary Ann Almager, a natural junior middleweight, in a junior welterweight (139-lb) bout. Almager, who improved to 4-0 with the win, would go on to win the WIBF Junior Middleweight title in her next pro bout!

On October 6, 1994 in Tampa, Florida, Deirdre TKO'd Gail Grandchamp in the first round.

On February 14, 1995, Deirdre TKO'd Isra Girgrah of Atlanta, Georgia in the third round of a featherweight contest. This was Girgrah's pro debut; she went on to win five world titles before retiring in 2004.

Deirdre vs. Laura Serrano in Las Vegas
Copyrighted photo by Jack Pokress

In the all-women's card staged by the WIBF at the Aladdin Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on April 20, 1995, Deirdre (124 lbs) was TKO'd by Laura Serrano (130 lbs) of Mexico City after receiving a barrage of punches that rendered her helpless at 1:12 in the seventh round.  This fight for the WIBF Super Featherweight title was a tough battle in which Gogarty's jabs and patented left hook were pitted against Serrano's devastating body attack. It was a war that went six and a half rounds before Gogarty's manager threw in the towel. Gogarty was game to continue, but her corner saw her starting to take tremendous punishment when Serrano began to get the upper hand, and her manager threw in the towel. Several of Serrano's blows to Gogarty's mid-section had almost doubled Gogarty over. Serrano later said that "Deirdre Gogarty was my toughest opponent, and the reason is because she is strong. She has a nice technique, and is always in very good condition, and she is a smart fighter." 

On November 30, 1995 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City, Missouri, Deirdre (128 lbs) TKO'd Jessica Breitfelder (5'2", 139 lbs) of Springfield at 0:46 in the first round. Breitfelder, making her pro debut, would post a 1-9-0 record before retiring from the sport in 1996

Deirdre got the boxing world's attention in a big way by losing a decision over six fierce rounds to Christy Martin in the MGM Grand Garden on March 16, 1996. The super lightweight fight, which was seen on pay-per-view by over 30 million subscribers, was the one that brought women's boxing back into the media spotlight in 1996. In it, Deirdre again faced a much heavier opponent (I'm told that Christy outweighed Deirdre by 18 pounds on the scales, and probably by more than 23+ pounds on fight night), and one who could out-punch her. Not surprisingly, Deirdre had problems with Christy Martin's fierce body attack and pressure, but she rose to the occasion brilliantly and was still on her feet at the end of a rousing action-packed battle, despite a trip to the canvas in the second round.

One good punch from Gogarty had bloodied Martin's nose in mid-fight, and Martin fought the latter half of their battle covered in blood, but Gogarty was still unable to turn the bout her way. Martin advanced to 29-1-2 with the win.

Deirdre battling Christy Martin, March 16 1996

The mixture of ferocity and boxing skills shown by both women made their match the best of a night that was supposed to have been headlined by Frank Bruno's heavyweight title defense against Mike Tyson. Martin's bloody nose and bruised left eye caught the attention of the visual media and both women's boxing in the USA and Martin's own boxing career received a huge boost, thanks to the well-placed fist of Deirdre Gogarty! 

Richard Hoffer of Sports Illustrated wrote: "Not only was the bout between ... Martin and ...Gogarty ... more competitive than the typical prelim, but it had more action and better boxing than the main event...and there was gore to boot, all of it Martin's. After Gogarty rocked her in the second round Martin bled wildly from the nose; it was a harmless injury, but eye opening for the fans who were expecting Foxy Boxing."

Women's Sports and Fitness magazine said the fight, ``ripped down the cutesy veil that had relegated women to the foxy-boxing fringes of the sport.''

Many female boxers who were active in the late 1990's and early 2000's, including Laila Ali, have said that they were originally inspired to try boxing after seeing the Martin-Gogarty battle. In that sense, Deirdre delivered the bloody nose that helped launch the boxing careers of dozens of other fighters. It's ironic that after a performance that helped to re-establish women's boxing as a serious sport, Deirdre had problems getting fights herself ... at least with boxers at her own level of skill.

All of her next three fights ended in first round knockouts. On July 13, 1996 in Denver, Colorado she scored a first round knockout in a rematch with Jessica Breitfelder. On September 18, 1996 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, she TKO'd Shannise Davis of Atlanta in the first round. On November 27 in Cleveland, Ohio she TKO'd Sharon Yates in the first round and on November 29, 1996 in St. Paul, Minnesota she knocked out Patricia Simms of Ashtabula, Ohio in the first round.  Simms fell to 0-2.

On January 11, 1997 she substituted on short notice for an (allegedly) slightly-injured Christy Martin for a bout at the Arena in Nashville, Tennessee that was carried live on Showtime TV. Thanks to a matchmaking travesty, Deirdre scored an easy TKO against Debra Stroman of Blackville, South Carolina, who clearly should never have been in the ring with her. Gogarty tagged Stroman early for a standing eight count then went for the kill. Stroman's corner wisely threw in the towel at 0:43 of the first in this scheduled six-rounder.

It's not clear whether Stroman was Martin's originally-intended opponent or a last-minute substitute after Martin pulled out. Stroman was reported at the time to have a 6-3 record (but not to have fought for two years) but there's no record that this was anything other than her pro debut, and she took the fight on a week's notice. For whatever reason, this fight produced a one-sided fiasco on pay-per-view TV that did nothing to improve the public's view of women's boxing or to advance Deirdre's career. (It has also been suggested to me that Christy Martin was not really injured, and that Gogarty's sudden appearance on this Don King card was merely a symptom of a contract dispute between Martin and King.)

Deirdre's goal had become a fight with Bonnie Canino for the WIBF Featherweight title. This match finally took place in a "Carnival of Champions" card featuring three WIBF title fights at Keifer Lakefront Arena in New Orleans on March 2, 1997. Canino had more total ring experience (29-3-1, 11 KOs) than Gogarty (17-4-2, 16 KO's) but as a two-sport competitor ... kickboxer and boxer, where she was 3-0.  This was one of the few occasions when Deirdre fought a well-trained and experienced opponent in her proper weight class (all four of her previous losses had come while fighting above her weight class.)

Gogarty vs. Canino

Gogarty vs. Canino
Deirdre winning the WIBF title over Bonnie Canino,
March 2 1997

Gogarty won the world title by a 10-round decision after a fight that was ugly to watch because Canino used a clinch-filled grabby style at times more reminiscent of Muay Thai than of pro boxing, in a partly successful attempt to physically smother Deirdre's offense. At one point Canino almost wrestled Gogarty through the ropes!  Bonnie Canino, herself a very capable and stylish boxer when that's her fight plan, went on to win the IFBA's Featherweight world title after losing this bout to Deirdre. 

On April 19, 1997 in Shreveport, Louisiana, Deirdre TKO'd "Monique Strohman" in the first round of a featherweight bout. (Some reports list this opponent as the same Debra Stroman who Deirdre TKO'd in Nashville).

On January 10, 1998 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Deirdre (126 lbs) lost a ten-round unanimous decision to Beverly Szymanski (125 lbs) for the vacant WIBF Featherweight title.  Deirdre had suffered a torn rotator cuff while training for this bout and aggravated the injury in the second round, so she was only able to land with her left in the final eight rounds. Deirdre had come out firing at first, using a good jab and good ring movement to keep Szymanski at arm's length. After aggravating the injury, Deidre was unable to hold off the steady and determined Szymanski, who used a combination of hooks to the body and straight jabs to the head to take over the fight in the fourth round. All through the later rounds Szymanski kept control of the fight with a steady pace and stream of combinations and jabs. Neither was ever in any real danger.

After recovering from the injury, Deirdre attempted a comeback but she decided to retire after seven scheduled fights fall apart through cancellations, opponents’ withdrawals or promoters failing to deliver on their promises. “I went to Florida three times for press conferences and the fights never happened,” she told the Lafayette Daily Advertiser in 2003. “I was sitting in a dressing room in Atlanta one night, in full gear, when the promoter came and told me my fight was canceled. When you train and prepare yourself over and over and that happens, it’s hard. No matter what, you have to do the training, and so many times you get nothing for the effort.”

Trina Ortegon and Deirdre Gogarty
with former world champion Trina Ortegon in 2003
Photo courtesy Trina Ortegon

Deirdre formally retired from boxing competition in November 2003.  Her overall record was 18-5-2 (15 KO's).

She works full-time as the Art Director for AAA Signs, Inc., one of the largest sign companies in the Southwestern U.S.A. She also makes “shadow boxes” to commemorate the careers of great boxers. In the evenings,  she now trains young boxers at Beau Williford's Ragin' Cajun gym in Lafayette, Louisiana, including hot prospect Kasha Chamblin.  Deirdre now puts the same work ethic into coaching young prospects as she did throughout her own boxing career. She also became the first female member of the Louisiana State Boxing Commission in June 2004. 

“Her legacy is that she is the best technical, scientific fighter in women’s boxing history,” says her long-time coach Beau Williford. “She gave it all that she had every second of every round she ever fought.”

"I don't like violence at all, but I absolutely love boxing", says Gogarty, explaining "I guess I just don't think of it as violent. There's not a victim. Both are on equal terms."

Other Deirdre Gogarty links

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Page last updated: Saturday, 15 December 2012


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