Why New York Loves John Duddy by Umar ben-Ivan as posted on East Side Boxing:
This Saturday Irish John Duddy will face Yori Boy Campos at the Theater at Madison Square Garden and it is likely he will sell this venue out for the second time (something Zab Judah failed to do when he was the undisputed welterweight champion of the world). Everywhere I go in my Queens neighborhood I see posters advertising the fight as Shamrocks V. Sombreros and the community genuinely seems excited.
The last time that Duddy stepped in the ring was against Freddie Cuevas at Madison Square Garden on the undercard of Miguel Cotto-Paulie Malignaggi and he thrilled the thousands of Irish fans who showed up to cheer him on even as he was tested by the battle-worn Chicago veteran. Outnumbered by the over 10,000 Puerto Rican Cotto fans in one of the best nights of boxing I have ever seen at the Garden; the Irish fans wildly cheered Duddy with Irish football ( soccer) chants and cheers.
Duddy just isn’t Irish; he is a living and breathing part of the historic Irish community of New York City. He shows up for charity events in Queens, the Bronx, Yonkers and other places and several months ago he stood up and addressed Senator John McCain at St. Barnabas Church which is nestled on the border of the Bronx and Yonkers and introduced himself as John Duddy and the thousands in attendance stood up and gave him a loud ovation at this Legalize the Irish event.
Boxing is important to the Irish people and has been a tradition for many for generations; particularly those who grew up in the Irish slums before Ireland became the Celtic Tiger it is today and the Six Counties of Northern Ireland when they were still in daily turmoil before the current quasi recess in hostilities. Duddy hails from Derry, a city in the North, and it is known as a tough town that is full of hard-working families who are known for their hospitality and love of sports and he has brought that ethic to New York.
In the political world pundits have often talked about the three important I’s in New York politics; Israel, Italy, and Ireland, and of those groups the Irish and Italians are rapidly losing population from New York City as working-families flee the high cost of living for less expensive ground just as a generation or two ago they fled the crime of NYC. There is also the fact that the economy of Ireland is now one of the best in Europe and for the first time in centuries Ireland is a land to more than a land of poverty and an exporter of its people and is home to a booming economy.
Watching John Duddy in the ring, and watching him enter the ring not to hip-hop but to traditional Irish music, the fans see a new and vibrant Irish youth and not only are they reminded of the promise of today but of the glory of yesteryear when Irish fighters would routinely fight in New York. For others, whose families have been here for generations, Duddy is a reminder of many of our family’s immigrant roots and there is no way to earn you keep harder than in the ring and still for others it is just a joy to watch someone who fights with a passion and has power in both hands and is willing and ready to mix it up.