Joe EganJoe Egan

Joe Egan Wiki- Joe Egan Biography

Joe Egan It was the start of a lifelong friendship – and a promising boxing career – with the heavyweight champ, who dubbed the Irish fighter “the toughest white man on the planet”. But after 80 wins in US Golden Gloves bouts and seven Irish titles, Joe’s dreams were cut short by a horrific car accident, sending him into a downward spiral that saw him shot twice in a gang attack, defendant of attempted murder and jailed for shipping stolen cars.

Now ‘Big’ Joe, who made his boxing comeback at the age of 38 and went on to star in a Hollywood movie, tells The Sun about his incredible life-from being bullied at school to losing his girlfriend to Michael Flatley. While few would mess with the 6ft 1in hardman now, Joe-the eldest of seven kids-was mercilessly bullied by older kids in the Ringsend suburb of Dublin and in the UK, where his dad moved to find work.

“When I was seven or eight, I made my Holy Communion, and two of the bully boys, who were 15 or 16, tried to take away my Communion medal,” he says. “I held on to it and I got my two front teeth knocked out. “When I got bullied it was physical, and when you got an arm broken or a nose broken the doctors would say ‘It’ll heal in a week’.

“In all my years in boxing I only ever had one tooth knocked out. “The boxing ring was literally a safe place for me, compared to the years of bullying.”

Joe’s dad encouraged him into the ring as a young boy and in his first fight, at 12, he was pitted against future middleweight champ Steve Collins, who says “pounded me to a pulp, absolutely hammered me. “I lost on points but I went the distance.”
At 17, he traveled to the US to train with the Irish Boxing Team and met heavyweight champ Floyd Patterson who asked him to stay on in the States as a sparring partner for a new heavyweight hope, Mike Tyson.

The pair – who remain close friends 40 years on – bonded over their experiences of being bullied, sharing the ring for over two years and living together in New York’s Catskill Gym. Tyson gave him his flattering “toughest man” title after their first sparring session, when he was the fourth fighter in the ring and the only one to stay standing after three minutes.

“If you are going to get battered you might as well get battered by the best,” Joe says. “I got battered by Mike Tyson and I got battered by Lennox Lewis when I fought him in 1985. “It was a privilege to share the ring with both of them and it is an honor to say Mike Tyson has been my close friend for 40 years now. “He visited my mother at home in Ireland four times.”
As well as going the distance with champion Lewis, and wearing the green vest of the Irish boxing team 11 times, Joe’s proudest achievement was a win against World Heavyweight Champion Bruce Seldon in 1988.

But after going pro in 1990, his promising career was cut short by injuries sustained in a car accident and his life began to “spiral out of control”.

Joe ploughed his money into the Lyndhurst pub in Erdington, Birmingham, where he says he upped takings from £1,000 a week to £16,000 a week. But it was here the brawler faced his most terrifying opponents yet, in the summer of 1998. “I had a demand for £500 a week protection money from a racketeering gang in Birmingham,” he says. “I bow down to royalty only out of respect but no man out of fear. After telling them no, the following week, on July 26, 1998, they attacked my pub.

“There were 37 of them armed with handguns, shotguns, machetes. It was a horrific day. “It was savage. I got shot twice while trying to help a man who had fought in World War II, only to get shot at in a pub in a Birmingham housing estate by scum. It was a nasty 25-minute experience.” The war veteran was shot in the hip and Joe was shot in the arm and nose, but he says he was “lucky nobody died”.

He adds: “The gang that attacked me had burned down some pubs before in the Birmingham area. They even burned down the pub belonging to my old boss, Harry. “Then afterwards I got charged with attempted murder. “I was defending myself.” Faced with jail, Joe ran up huge legal bills as he fought the charge, and his business went under. He was eventually tried for attempted murder and found not guilty.

Joe Egan Age

Joe Egan Age is not clear.

Mike Tyson called me the world’s toughest white guy but my boxing dream died

At the same time, his relationship with fiancee Lisa Murphy fell apart in bizarre fashion. “When Lisa saw that I was a sinking ship, she jumped ship to Michael Flatley,” he says. “He was the biggest star of Irish dancing in the world, earning a million pounds a week.

“It doesn’t bother me now but at the time it was very upsetting. “Mike Tyson called me ‘the toughest white man on the planet’, but even my heart has been broken by a woman. “There was a lot of anger there at the time, but it wasn’t always an angry relationship. There was a lot of love at one time. I thought we’d be together forever.

“But I don’t hold a grudge against Michael or Lisa anymore.”

After a six-year romance, Lisa split from the Lord of the Dance star who is now battling cancer, and Joe says: “I sincerely hope he wins this fight.” With problems piling up, Joe says he got “involved in crime” and in 2001, he was jailed for two and half years for his part in an international car-ringing gang.

“My business was failing and I ran out of money so I got involved with crime to pay for my legal fees,” he says. “I got grassed on and sent to prison. It shouldn’t have happened. I hadn’t been in trouble with the law before but all these things happened in my life. “I don’t believe crime pays. Tragically, I was forced to go down that road but I regret it.

“The only time I saw my father cry was because I was going to prison. The shame I had, the disgust I had for myself, the hurt and pain I had caused him, I was so ashamed of myself.
“I told him I’ll never get into trouble again.

“It’s not nice being locked up, you’re confined for 23 hours a day. I wouldn’t recommend it. But what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” While in prison, Joe trained in the gym and on his release he announced his comeback, at the age of 38, after a 12-year absence. He won in the fifth round, against a pal in Dublin, and says: “It was good to be back as Joe the boxer and not Joe the criminal.” But he went back into retirement after the lonely fight.

His days in the ring finally over, Joe turned to acting after meeting Brit star Tamer Hassan and signing up with his agent, who sent him to audition for the 2009 Guy Ritchie hit Sherlock Holmes. Cast as a boxer who fights Robert Downey Jr’s fictional detective, Ritchie told him, “I’ve been trying to get you in one of my films for a long time,” adding that Downey Jr had also suggested him because of his “fearsome reputation” ”.

“I couldn’t believe that these people even knew me, but they knew me because of my close friendship with Mike Tyson,” he says. “When he told me the amount I was getting paid, it was more than any of my professional fights. “I said, ‘Guy, for that money, Robert Downey Jnr can really hit me if he wants to. “I’ve been beaten up for a lot less.”

Although the fight scene was dropped, the boxer instead filmed a specially-written prison scene as a character named Big Joe. He went on to appear in Prize Fighter with Russell Crowe and has since made guest appearances in numerous TV shows, including Brassic in 2019.

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Joe’s colorful life has earned him some high-profile pals including Ricky Hatton and heavyweight champ Tony Bellew, who is set to enter the I’m A Celebrity camp this week as a late arrival.

More controversially, he has also been associates with notorious gangsters, including Daniel Kinahan, from the infamous Irish organized crime family, and Gerry Hutch, who was the prime suspect in the 2016 murder of David Byrne at a boxing weigh-in at the Dublin Regency Hotel, which sparked a tit for tat feud among rival gangs that left dozens dead.

He previously told the Irish Mirror that the horrific attack was “wrong on every level”. He added: “David Byrne was my friend and I know his father Jaws Byrne since I was a little boy.

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“That room was full of boxing fans and boxers, so to go in and spray a machine-gun in a room full of people that weren’t involved in any criminal activity, that’s so wrong on so many levels.”