By Ginger DeShaney

Bo Cleary is just an old-school Southie soul. 

His Southie upbringing – he grew up in Old Harbor, then in City Point – and so many good people here helped him along the way. He now settles in doing some fit coaching and once-in-a-blue-moon acting, stunts, and voiceovers as a Screen Actors Guild member.

“It was an amazing place for me to grow up. I had some amazing people,” Bo said, noting it would take too long to name them all. “I like to call them good old-school souls that I benefited from being around, and I still cherish their relationships.

“Some of the best people I’ve known come from South Boston,” said Bo, who divides his time between Cape Ann and South Boston.

For years, Bo worked under the umbrella of the City of Boston as a lifeguard, youth coordinator, and youth athletic director. 

Bo was always an athlete, starting with the Boys & Girls Club swim team. He played CYO basketball at Gate of Heaven and was on the Tynan’s travel basketball team. He also played football, baseball, and almost every other sport. Fitness, working out, and athletics have always been a part of his life and he uses that experience to build up his fitness clients.

His motto is simple: “When I work out, I feel better. And when I feel better, I usually do better. Simple. That’s it,” he said. “People really identify with that.”

His clients appreciate that down-to-earth philosophy. “When you work out, it’s really simple, you feel better. And when you find you have a little more self-esteem, a little more self-confidence, you do a little better.”

Bo’s busy time with clients is now through October and all his workouts are outside. “I get a lot of people who like the outdoor workouts because there’s so much you can do out there.”

Bo has worked out in pretty much every park and beach in and around South Boston. “I find any place where I can get the mind right. We call my workouts getting the mind right.

“We don’t have to break records. We’re just trying to be better than we were yesterday. And it’s a simple philosophy. Because none of us are better than and none of us are certainly less than. I try to keep the same level.”

And that’s true with most of the people he coaches. 

“I’ve been around some celebrities … I don’t care about what you have or who you roll with. It comes down to how we treat each other. We have to treat each other with respect and consideration whether you’re in the struggle big time or if you’re Johnny Dig Me; doesn’t matter,” the South Boston High School graduate said. “We all have to learn to try to pick each other up. Because we rise by lifting others, there’s no question about it.”

Bo’s fitness coaching for celebrities is mostly character-related, he said. For example, for a boxing movie, he does boxing training, road work, running, and things like that. 

He’s worked with Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Kerry Washington, Jack Nicholson, Taraji P. Henson, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, and Ethan Hawke, to name a few, either as a once-in-a-blue-moon actor or as a fit coach.

Bo has trained actors on the following movies:

  • ​​Father Stu”
  • “Spenser Confidential”
  • “Mile 22”
  • “Transformers: The Last Knight”
  • “Patriots Day” 
  • “Daddy’s Home”
  • “Ted 2”
  • “Pain & Gain” 
  • “Broken City” 
  • “The Fighter”

His list of acting credits is just as impressive:

  • “Father Stu” (Boxing Referee)
  • “Spenser Confidential” (Cissy’s Date)
  • “The Equalizer 2” (Security Guard)
  • “Proud Mary” (Benny’s Guy/Tyson)
  • “Daddy’s Home 2” (Chauffeur) 
  • “Chasing Life” (TV Series, Angry Man)
  • “One Day” (Angry Man)
  • “Sex Tape” (Bodyguard)
  • “American Hustle” (FBI Agent #1)
  • “The Fighter” (Cop)
  • “What Doesn’t Kill You” (Steroid Geek #1)
  • “The Departed” (Drill Instructor #2 voice)
  • “Osmosis Jones” (Pea Soup Staff)
  • “Lift” (Police Officer)
  • “Southie” (Sully)
  • Several commercials, including ones with Adam Vinatieri and Tom Brady

He’s even written a song about Southie, called “Back Where I Belong,” which appeared in the movie “Southie.”

In most of his appearances, Bo has either had a scene with an Oscar-winning actor or the director has won an Oscar.

Bo was not a stranger to acting before getting film roles. He had signed with a local agency early on and did a couple of Reebok ads. 

As a youth worker, he took a bunch of kids to the Gladiator show at Bayside Expo. One of the kids told Bo he could be a Gladiator. A Gladiator manager overheard that comment and told Bo they were having tryouts if he was interested. Bo sent in his athletic resume and started training for Gladiator. He made the top three finalists but then the show was dropped.

On his way home from the Gladiator tryouts, Bo was invited to a birthday party for Mark Wahlberg. A couple of days after the party, Mark called Bo to work out. And at one of the workouts, Mark told Bo that he was doing a promo for a movie called “Fear” and was going to Europe and asked Bo if he was interested in going along. 

“So we kind of just hit it right off and the next thing you know I’m in France.”

It was his first trip from Southie to the Riviera. “A kid from Old Harbor sitting at the table looking at Dustin Hoffman and all these guys. ‘OK, what am I doing here?’ But you gradually realize that they just do something for a living and you do something for a living who happen to cross paths, no better than, no less than.”

And the rest, as they say, is history. 

Bo is most proud of being a father. There’s no doubt, his daughter comes first. When she was younger, he put some things on the back burner because he wanted to see her grow up, not hear about it. He found joy in going to her games, coaching her, watching her become an artist and musician.

“There’s no better joy and love than seeing my daughter grow up,” he said.

Bo is a humble man, relishing in other people’s success more than his own.

“It’s great to see people do well,” he said about his many friends and acquaintances. “You root for people; that’s what it’s all about. You want to see people succeed, and then you get inspired by their success.”

We, here in Southie, are inspired by Bo’s success!


Bo in “The Departed.”