Interview: Sean O’Grady

By Ray Wheatley – World of Boxing

Former WBA lightweight champion Sean O’Grady (81-5, 70 KOs) and legendary broadcaster talks to Peter Maniatis about his career in boxing and some of the outstanding people he has met.

Born into a boxing family

“My father (Pat) was in boxing before I was born. The only job my father had was in boxing. He was a trainer, also a cutman, and eventually became a promoter. He promoted my world championship fights. My family business was every two weeks we would have a fight promotion. Before the promotion, I would call the fight fans and request they came to the fights. I would take their orders for the tickets and on the night of the fights, I was in charge of the gloves and many other things. I was like a stage manager – I would get the fighters ready to get in the ring and then get them out of the ring. That was our life – every two weeks.

The Bubble Gum Kid

“When I was running doing roadwork I would chew bubble gum and it would help moisten my mouth which was helpful. When I went to weigh-ins you don’t want people to think you are nervous, though I was frightened to be facing my opponent, and the bubble gum helped to calm my nerves. At the face-off with my opponent, it helped that I could blow bubbles to show my opponent I was not scared of him. I was, but he didn’t know that. The media gave me the name ‘The Bubble Gum Bomber’ because I was always trying to knock out my opponent.

Sean Gibbons

“My cousin is Sean Gibbons and he could fight. (Gibbons had 20 fights and boxed Mickey Rourke), but he didn’t like to train. Sean does a great job working with Manny Pacquiao as the General Manager of Manny Pacquiao Promotions.

Boxer and Broadcaster

“The greatest time of my life was being a boxer. I was so proud to be a champion of the world. I wanted to be world champion since I was a little boy. But being a broadcaster on Tuesday Night Fights was spectacular too. I got to see some of the greatest fights in the world. I got to meet the boxers and their trainers and the people who came to the fights. I am still friends with many of them today. I have had a spectacular life.

Sugar Ray Robinson

“Sugar Ray Robinson was the best boxer I have seen. I met him when he was 65 years of age. I met him at the Main Street Gym in Los Angeles. He was terrific to talk to and he told me something I still carry with me today. He said boxers today don’t have balance. He then said ‘I want you to walk heel to toe, heel to toe, and walk everywhere you go. Don’t take the bus or your car – I want you to walk.’ Sugar Ray Robinson is unequivocally number one.

George Foreman

“My hero of all time is George Foreman. When my mother (Jean) died, George called me and said a prayer with me. That meant so much. To be that caring when your mother dies. Both my parents helped George in his career.

Joe Frazier

“When Joe Frazier died I cried. He was the neatest guy. Joe was so good to me. He would call me up to the ring at the fights. I interviewed him at Tuesday Night Fights. That was a big moment for me.

Brad Jacobs

“Brad Jacobs was the Producer of Tuesday Night Fights and is now the Chief Operating Officer of Top Rank. A great businessman and a neat guy – a great person. He helps many people. Gives people opportunities. That to me is world championship material.”

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  • The legend!! Not just a world titlist with almost 90 fights, he became one of the pioneers of cable sports broadcasting.

  • Best boxing announcer of my lifetime. Tuesday night fights was must see TV. He had like 30 pro fights and fought Danny “Red” Lopez before he even turned 18! Glad he seems to be doing ok.

    • Yes, one of the best commentators in the sport. I recall watching USA Tuesday Night Fights back in the heyday and hearing O’Grady’s feedback on the fights. Sean was very well mannered and seemed very fair in his commentating. The good ole days!

      • Yes indeed, Scooby. My earliest days being introduced to boxing was them old USA fights with Sean O’Grady. I still watch them for the memories.

      • USA Tuesday Night Fights really knocked me out – especially Sean’s broadcasts.

        Polite, colorful and knowledgeable, Sean’s occasional verbal gaffes always added to the most enjoyable fight broadcasts of my 50 years as a boxing fan.

        Thump the tub!!!

  • I loved USA Network’s Tuesday Night Fights broadcasted by Sean O’Grady and Marv Albert. I rarely, if ever, missed an episode of TNF.

  • I remember when Sean beat Hilmer Kenty. I was only like 10 years old but was following boxing closely for a couple of years and really enjoyed Saturday and Sunday boxing on free network TV! Those were the good ole days!

    I was shocked when he beat Kenty because Kenty was such a smooth boxer who could do it all. Sean is a real classy guy and I always loved watching him and Al Albert on USA’s Tuesday night fights. Nice article I really enjoyed it!

    • Sean O’Grady hooked up with Hilmer Kenty when TNF was doing a show in Detroit, MI.
      They had a nice re-union and discussion. I remember it like it was yesterday.
      Take care.
      – Gary G

  • One of the heaviest hitters ever he may have looked like Ritchie Cunningham but that dude could CRACK!!

    • “Ritchie Cunningham”.
      Now that’s funny !!
      Thanx, Paulie.
      Take care.
      – Gary G

  • This had to be the fastest click seeing Sean O’Grady name on this site. I def miss Sean and would love to hear him call fights again. TNF was truly a golden era. Sean and Marv Albert was a great team.
    Triller would be 100% more legitimate if they had picked these two guys to run the broadcast.

    • Sean’s broadcasting partner was Al Albert, Marv’s Brother. Sucked to see that series end. Don’t think I’ve watched anything on USA’s channel since…

      • Final episode in Philadelphia at The Blue Horizon. Butterbean in the main event. Approx Summer 1998.

        • I was at the Blue Horizon in north Philly many times.
          That was truly a classic venue to watch live boxing.
          I miss the Blue Horizon, USA’s TNF, Sean O’Grady, and hair (not necessarily in that order :).
          Take care.
          – Gary G

    • When Al Albert & Sean O’Grady were calling fights on TNF, Barry Tompkins & Al Bernstein were ESPN’s duo at the time. ABC had Alex Wallau & Dan Deirdorf, NBC: Marv Albert & Ferdie Pacheco, CBS: Tim Ryan & Gil Clancy. Liked every one of these announcers. Also liked Tom Kelley & Chris Marlowe….these two would alternate as announcers for the Great Western Forum fights alongside Ruben Castillo….

  • What’s he up to now? Is he still commentating anywhere? I thought he was great on TNF. Boxers make the best commnetaters, hands down. They have that irreplaceable knowledge of what’s really going on in the ring that even the most polished sports commentater could never attain.

  • Also a proud member of The Champions Museum as well. 1 of 87 former Champions there!

  • GOOD, entertaining boxer, and a GREAT announcer! Sean had a lot of wit, too; I loved his humor during the broadcasts. If I remember correctly, it was some humor that got him fired from major network broadcasts. Sean said that Ray Mancini took a good punch for an Italian!

  • I remember his humor actually when he lost to Andrew Ganigan by stoppage in two rounds. He told the announcer when they showed him the video, DO I HAVE TO SEE IT AGAIN, or something like that. He was at the height of his career when he defeated Hilmer Kenty, and then the drop down. He might have been robbed by the referee against Jim WATT in Scotland.

    • Yeah he was robbed against Watt. He was winning then he got heatbutted. His father ruined his career though. He could have had a bit of a run at 135 once he had the belt. But they walked away from that for whatever reason

  • I love Sean O Grady, he was a great fighter and stayed active then was on Tuesday Night Fights. Best ever!

    • Agreed! Following the rises of Jeremy Williams, Alex Garcia, Lionel Butler, Jimmy Thunder, Tommy Morrison, etc…. and the comebacks of greats like George Foreman and Larry Holmes. Tuesday Night Fights was so entertaining and fun to watch, and has been dearly missed ever since going off the air!

  • Never missed an episode of Tuesday night fights and had the opportunity to be at a couple of live broadcasts as well. The announcement crew of Grady and Albert were one of the best to ever do it, hands down.

  • Great boxing announcer, great boxing show….terribly missed….. always looked forward to the fights on Tuesday, still remember some of the fighters….showcased new talent, old fighters….just a great mix….great weekly…emphasizing weekly…. entertainment for cable tv….again terribly missed

  • Beat a very good Hilmer Kenty to win title. Unlucky vs Watt. After dad created WAA? he and his career were never the same. Enjoy watching his fights still on YouTube.

  • Some boxing platform needs to being back Sean for boxing commentary!!!!

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