Rónán Mac Con Iomaire is an award-winning author and broadcaster and is Group Head, Irish Language, at RTÉ, Ireland’s national broadcaster. He is associate producer of Rocky Ros Muc, the feature-length documentary film about the life of Séan Mannion. Rónán has won a number of awards for his journalism, and in 2013 he was named the New Writer of the Year at the Oireachtas Literary Awards. He is a contributor to Scéal Scéil (Cois Life, 2014), a collection of essays on modern Irish journalism.
Perhaps more than most athletes, boxers tend to have dramatic and
convoluted backstories. From the late 1970s to the early 1990s,
Irish-born Seán Mannion had a long, tempestuous ring career. He
won 42 fights, lost 12, and had 1 draw. Twice he battled for the
light middleweight title, and twice he lost. During his career, he
fought in Madison Square Garden and the Cirque d’Hiver in Paris as
well as in tank towns and other venues across the US and Europe.
Moving from Ireland to Boston as a teenager, he became the
prototype of a Boston tough, ready at any moment to slug it out. As
interesting as his time in the ring is, his time outside the ropes
is even more fascinating. Famed fighter Mickey Ward said, “Sean,
when he trained, trained his ass off, but he liked to have a few
drinks.” A classic understatement. Mannion had more than a few
drinks. His life touched the worlds of gun-running and drug-dealing
as well as the Boston Irish Mafia. The Man Who Was Never
Knocked Down is a page-turner, a sports story that at its
heart is a human tale of struggle and survival. Recommended.
For fellow Irishman Ronan Mac Con Iomaire, his biographer, Mannion deserves a second chance for the public to respect the fighter he was, and honor the man he is. The man who was never knocked down is still standing. . . . Readers will be fascinated by the episode when Mannion had to lose nine pounds in a day to make the welterweight requirement, or forfeit the fight. Mannion got through that ordeal, as he did through every challenge in the sport of boxing – except winning the title, champion.
*Boxing Over Broadway*
In The Man Who Was Never Knocked Down, Rónán Mac Con Iomaire has captured Sean Mannion’s essence, which is nestled in the bogs of Connemara, the Irish-speaking region in Galway that spawned him. Mannion’s story is not so much about talent squandered, about how surrounding himself with better people would have given him a better chance to be an enduring world champion. It’s about a man who stayed true to his roots, his language, his culture, his family and, ultimately, his soul. It is satisfyingly life-affirming.
*Kevin Cullen, columnist and former Dublin bureau chief for The Boston Globe*
Sean Mannion was a great fighter and an even greater person. This book captures the incredible story of a proud Irishman and a proud Ros Muc man. A man with a granite chin and a heart of gold.
*Micky Ward, former WBA light welterweight world champion, immortalized in the Academy Award-winning movie, The Fighter*