NOVEMBER 15, 2006

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Boxer knocks out top award for USAO Young Alumni

Irish Light-Welterweight Boxing Champion Oisin Fagan recently was chosen to receive the 2006 USAO Young Alumni Award. The 2002 graduate currently teaches physical education at Columbus Elementary School in Oklahoma City. Fagan received the award as part of the planned activities for the annual USAO Alumni Homecoming. Photo by Denver Duncan.

Irish boxing champ Oisin Fagan of Oklahoma City lives a double life. By day he is an elementary teacher. At night he becomes a boxer. The 2002 University of Science and Arts graduate recently was named the Light-Welterweight Champion of Ireland. In November, Fagan added another notch to his list of achievements when he received the 2006 USAO Young Alumni Award.

In an honors banquet featuring two 1956 Oklahoma College for Women graduates, Fagan was honored recently as part of the annual USAO Alumni Homecoming.

Fagan played varsity soccer from 1998 through 2002. As the USAO team captain during those four years, he was named Player of the Year four times, All-American Scholar-Athlete twice and was a member of the All-Conference Soccer Team from 2000-02. He majored in physical education with minors in both communication and political science. Unfortunately, a knee injury ended his soccer run.

Drawing from an inner resolve to make a name for himself, Fagan finished his degree as a “plan B” for his future. A hotheaded hero at heart, he decided to make use of one of the things that actually hurt him on the field: a fiery temper.

In 2003, the Dublin, Ireland, native decided to give pro boxing a swing. He had fought a few times as an amateur in Ireland, but it wasn’t until he began training in Oklahoma City that he gave it serious thought.

Local bouts gave way to more local bouts. With each victory, Fagan’s card moved closer to the top. But fighting didn’t pay the bills, and without a job, deportation loomed near.

When he decided to call it quits and head back to Irish soil, a close friend made a proposition. Phil Cunningham, principal at Columbus Elementary School in Oklahoma City, asked what he could do to help. Fagan said he needed a job. Ironically, Cunningham needed a physical education teacher. Fagan accepted.

Within a year, Fagan was fighting in Las Vegas. In 2004, he was named the Lightweight Champion of Oklahoma. In 2006, he returned home for a run at his national title – and won it. This summer he was named the Light-Welterweight Champion of Ireland.

Today, the ‘Gael Force’ stands at a 16-3 record, with nine knockouts.

“I should have no business fighting against lads who train full-time,” Fagan said, “but my desire to win has made it so that I have an extra incentive to show what this little Irish lad’s big Irish heart can do.”

Apparently, his Irish heart is big, indeed. Since 1997, he has helped orchestrate soccer tournaments that benefit the Asthma Society of Ireland. In Oklahoma City, he’s delivered food to the poor as a Catholic Worker House volunteer since 2003.

He’s even played Santa Claus for underprivileged minority children in the metro.

“It's very important to start each day with a big smile on my face and to show love where I can to the kids who need it most,” Fagan said. “I'm not perfect and certainly no saint in my own life, but kids know when you're doing your best and they seem to appreciate a good sense of humor.”

Contact: Randy Talley, director of media and community relations, 405.574.1337