November Hooliganism Column from The Irish American News

Mike Houlihan

I’ve met a lot of tough guys over the course of my journey through this world. Some of them were big, some fast, and some diminutive but determined bruisers who could have you on the ground crying for your mammy before you blinked. The toughest of them all are blessed with a tenacious soul that never equivocates while reaching out to help others.

My friend Marty McGarry is one of those noble gents. How cool is Marty? His wife Kathy dated the young boxer from Belmullet, County Mayo, when they first met and his brogue was so thick she thought his name was “Mark” for the first several months of their courtship. It didn’t matter to her what he was saying. She saw in Marty the quiet strength of a warrior who could provide and protect, a man with whom to spend the rest of her life.

It wasn’t until Kathy saw Marty’s picture in the sports section one day after one of his many victories and read the caption that she realized his name. “So you’re name is ‘Martin’”?

Marty laughs at that story and his smile lights up a million watts strong. He and Kathy have come a long way since then, with kids and grand kids, and the legacy of his McGarry’s Boxing Club. He’s been coaching and teaching kids in the attic of his garage for decades and turning out champions of body and soul. Not only the young people but also those who benefitted from the countless fundraisers Marty helped put together for a variety of causes. If somebody needed help, you could count on Marty helping out.

I know many of us in the Irish American community have been touched by Marty McGarry and know how proud we are to call ourselves his friends. Whatever the event, you’ll see Marty stride through the crowd with that spectacular smile of his and shake your hand to let you know he is on your side. How can you lose when Marty has your back?

Now it’s our turn.

Last February Marty was diagnosed with an extremely rare hereditary disease that has already claimed the lives of his mother and two brothers. But there is hope in a new drug only available in Portugal. It’s very expensive and not covered by insurance.

On Sunday December 2nd Marty’s friends are throwing a fundraiser for him at 115 Bourbon Street, 3359 West 115th Street in Merrionette Park, from 1-6PM. Minimum donation is $35 for beer, wine, pop and dinner buffet and the Bears on the big screen. If everybody Marty has ever helped shows up they will have to book Soldier Field. Please make sure you’re at Bourbon Street on Sunday Dec. 2nd or make a drop at

The website has additional information on Marty’s fight but also features a prayer section with the Hail Mary in Gaelic and a special prayer to Our Lady of Knock, whose shrine is just a few miles up the road from Marty’s hometown.

The Blessed Mother appeared in a vision there to a group of 15 people, young and old, who watched and prayed in the pouring rain on the evening of August 21st in 1879. Knock became a Marian shrine and over 300 miraculous healings have been attributed to The Queen of Ireland since that initial apparition.

I spoke to Marty recently and he told me, “I’m overwhelmed by all the support, the friends and all the prayers. It’s great to have so many friends.”

When I mentioned the prayer to Our Lady of Knock, the boxing legend told me: “If a miracle can happen, She’s the one who can pull it off!”

Please join us on Dec.2nd and offer up a prayer for our pal Marty McGarry and send it up to
Our Lady of The Knockout!
She’ll know what to do.



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