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December 3, 2012

Southie’s Hall-of-Famer

By Kevin Devlin

Peter Welch has dedicated his life to boxing and will continue to do so for future generations.

Peter Welch was recently inducted into the South Boston Sport’s Hall of Fame, and is proud to be in such select company. Peter is the son of Midge Crowley and Bobby Welch. His wife is Joanne and they have three children, Peter, Joyce, and Ella.

When Peter was young, his family moved to “F” Street and lived with cousins until they moved into the Old Colony Development where he grew up. From the very beginning Peter loved the game of boxing. As a youngster, he shadow-boxed on the street outside of his apartment and his friends would make fun of him.

Peter always participated in the Saint Patrick’s Day annual boxing event held at the McDonough Gym on West Broadway. To him, it was the biggest day of the year. He fondly recalled his mom buying him blue-high top boxing shoes and his dad buying him Everlast Olympic boxing trunks every year for this coveted event. He felt boxing kept him safe and out-of-trouble. And since he was an only child he embraced this endeavor to protect himself from being bullied.

“I was attracted to this sport because when I was fighting I felt empowered,” Peter said. “I enjoyed imposing my skills and abilities against an opponent.”

Peter feels that he was fortunate to have mentors such as Tommy Connors, Eddie Kelly, Mike Larkin, and Bobby Ellis, who took the time to show him how to box. He learned the fundamentals but it wasn’t until he was taken under the wing of Danny Long that he found himself as a boxer with a plan.

“Having a mentor (such as Danny) who believed in me inspired me,” Peter stated. “Inspired me to become the man I am today. He opened my eyes. It shows me today how this is the glue, the fabric of what makes Southie so great. These mentors gave their time and shared their experiences and knowledge to the youth of Southie.

“Now, I need to work harder and work with our youth,” he added. “I need to prepare them and make sure I give back to Southie by building a strong boxing program for the kids. I was given a gift from my mentors and I need to continue on with their work.”

Peter fought as a pro for two years (1995-‘97) and was 5-0. In his last pro fight at Mohican Sun, he was on the James Toney/Mike McCallum undercard, and was the only local unknown fighter nationally as the other boxers were all Olympians. He stepped away from the games due to politics but more importantly because he was getting married. Peter was preparing to raise a family and needed more job-security. He thought he might return as a fighter but it wasn’t meant to be. Tommy Connors subsequently asked him to help out with the Saint Patrick’s Day annual boxing event and he continues to do so every year.

In 2004, Peter was a boxing coach for eight weeks on “The Ultimate Fighter” which aired on the Spike channel. He appeared on the show for two seasons and connected with dozens of accomplished ultimate fighters. He sparred and trained Jorge Rivera, Rashad Evans, Chris Leben, Randy Couter (world heavyweight UFC champ), Forrest Griffin (light heavyweight UFC champ), Kenny Florian who challenged for three UFC titles, and Brock Lesnar who won the world heavyweight UFC championship. After his stint training UFC fighters, he returned home, and with the help of his dear wife Joanne, realized his longtime dream of opening up his own gym.

Peter is proud of being inducted into the hall and hopes to continue where his mentors left off by promoting the game of boxing.

“Like I said at the induction, I am proud to be in this select company,” he said. “And…without doubt, I am proud to say Southie is my hometown.

“My goal at the gym is to keep kids interested in boxing,” Peter added. “But we need a little help from USA boxing. They won’t allow us to run ‘Smokers’-that is, non-sanctioned bouts on the local level. Without Smokers we can’t keep the kids active and interested. We need to keep them engaged in learning and also build a strong neighborhood program, not only in Southie but citywide. We need programs with strong cards so we can funnel our boxers to the Olympics and to the pros.”



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