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Sculpture honours Belfast boxing champ Rinty Monaghan

A sculpture has been unveiled of Belfast's first world boxing champion.

John "Rinty" Monaghan, who sang When Irish Eyes are Smiling after bouts, became flyweight champion in 1948.

The 10ft bronze sculpture has captured Monaghan in a victorious pose with one hand taped up and a microphone in the other.

The artwork overlooks the area of North Belfast where he was born and grew up, off York Street.

Family members including his daughters, Collette and Rosetta, his brother Tommy and his nephew, Eamon McAuley, himself a former boxer, attended the event which included US guests.

Belfast Lord Mayor, Arder Carson, said: "It is the people of Belfast who make the city so special and it is sporting heroes like Rinty that encourage many others to succeed, so we are delighted to be honouring him today in the area where he grew up, lived and trained."

Monaghan became world flyweight champion in March 1948 after defeating Scottish fighter Jackie Paterson.

He retired two years later having fought 66 times - winning 51, drawing six and losing nine.

The artwork is located at Cathedral Gardens, York Street.

Colette Pill, Monaghan's daughter, said: "We are so proud that our daddy has finally been honoured by his home city with this marvellous sculpture.

"It is a lovely tribute to his life and achievements and we hope it inspires many young boxers to represent Belfast with pride on the world stage."

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