[Interview by Pattee Mak – December 8, 2015] If you are from the New England area you are already familiar with professional boxer “Irish” Joe McCreedy (15-8-2, 6 Kos) from Lowell, Massachusetts. Unfortunately being known and popular can either be a blessing or a curse. Sometimes what you see live, in person, isn’t always what you get. In a few weeks, on the 18th of December, McCreedy has an upcoming bout at Twin River Casino, Lincoln, Rhode Island against Emmanuel Sanchez (6-4-0) from Texas which is promoted by CES. (Bout subject to change). My intentions were to interview McCreedy concerning this bout but he had a different story to tell. One that emotionally moved me, dropped my jaw to the floor and opened my eyes to who McCreedy really is and was. Some of you will be SHOCKED by what you are about to read. They always say don’t judge a book by its cover. McCreedy’s life, his passions, his trials, his tribulations…..Here’s his story coming from McCreedy himself:
McCreedy: I want to tell my story so that others alike can overcome the same obstacles in their life that I overcame. I had a disease starting around the age of 9. I hit rock bottom on more than one occasion and I’m talking about the kind of depression that you don’t want to get out of bed or shower in the morning. Thank GOD, I always had the support of my family and my girl friend stood by me through the good and bad times. In the end it was all meant to be. It had to happen. Without that stom.
Let me take you back about 30 years of my life to about the age of 9. I suffered with severe depression. I started drinking Monday through Sunday, alone in my room. We are talking about 2-3 bottles by myself.
I was depressed after the Sean Monaghan (20-0-0) fight when I lost [Round 5 or 10 by TKO]. I let my own city down. I felt that I was put on a pedestal, I had a ton of pressure for performance cause of the same route that Micky [Ward] had on HBO. Everyone was saying that I was following in Micky’s footsteps. It got in my head. I thought I could win and I definitely thought I could get a shot at the WBC title. I was thinking, I may never get that shot again in my life. I took the fight and I lost. It was great when I cashed my check. When I hit low everything went low. I lost best friends. A ton of people gave up on me and looked down on me. I would hear people in the gym saying “Hey that’s Irish McCreedy, he just lost in Vegas. He’s all washed up”. I’m thinking I’m supposed to make my city proud. A lot happened. I trained hard for it. So what can I say I gave it my all. People started to look down on me. I remember when I would go to the club’s in Lowell. I used to get in for free, never buy drinks. I’d by pass the security. Then once I lost they looked at me like I was no one. Everything changed. I got really down on myself. I got depressed. I just blocked everyone out and locked myself in my room and kept drinking and drinking and drinking and even with the [Richard] Gingras [14-4-1] fight I wasn’t ready for the fight. The only reason why was cause I couldn’t stop drinking. After training and working out, I’d go home and drink by myself and get up the next day and start doing the same thing and a week before the fight I’d stop drinking. You should have seen how sloppy I looked at the weight in’s. During the fight, I was weak. I had nothing in me for the fight. I wasn’t eating healthy. I was skipping days, didn’t run, I didn’t care. I was mentally not there. I took it for a paycheck to have money to drink and get through how I was feeling inside. After my loss to Gingras I got more depressed. I kept drinking until I blocked out. Never did I do pills or drugs it was just booze. I just wanted to be numb. I asked myself at times, “Why am I still boxing? Do I want to box?” I gave up on myself.
I’ll never forget the night, that I couldn’t stop drinking and my girl friend called me. I was drinking at 8 am and she knew something was up because she could tell I was lying to her trying to talk my way out of the conversation. I said I was fine and just tired. She ended up coming over finding me past out and seeing 2 empty bottles in my room. She ended up flipping out and of course now I’m pissed off and went right back to the liquor store and kept drinking. Unfortunately at the same time I was also taking doctor prescribed sleeping medicine which made it 100% worse. I ended up blacking out, had no clue what I did and I woke up in the psych ward. I was told that I had a chemical reaction to my medicine because I was mixing booze and pills which don’t go together. I not only mixed two substances that shouldn’t be together but while intoxicated at my house, I went downstairs grabbed a knife, put it to my throat in front of my mom and little brother and said, “I love you and goodbye”. I was going to commitment suicide. I was numb. I was maybe less than a second before doing it. My hand was moving the right way towards my throat. I have no clue how fast my mom jumped from her bed to grab me and the knife went flying. I still can’t believe what I just did. My mom knew I was self-medicating myself cause I was depressed. Once the cops were called they brought me to the hospital because I needed help. For some weird reason God made me do what I did. If GOD didn’t make my commit suicide I probably wouldn’t be here right now. I hit rock bottom! I HIT ROCK BOTTOM! Like there was no coming back. So I was put in a psych ward. Next day when I woke up I was sober. My Dad, mom, girlfriend, aunts, everyone was crying. They just want me to get help. When the Doctor came in I just wanted to leave. I started to lie to the Doctor but my mom was telling the doctor the truth as to what I would do. I said “I’d go home and kill myself. I don’t want to live anymore. I let everyone down. I had a whole city on my shoulders. I let everyone down.” My head had all these thoughts going through it. The hospital said they found a bed for me. I was thinking a day or two days to calm my nervous that’s all I would need. v. I’m in an ambulance being transported to an undisclosed location somewhere in Haverhill. To a psych ward and yes the kind you see on tv. When I get there they now are putting a straight jacket on me. I started to freak out. Picture two big guys coming out and take me to my room. They bring me clothes and tell me to sit in a tiny room with no TV. The same as psychopaths and crazy people. I just sat there thinking how the f*** did I get here. A couple of months ago I’m fighting for a world title and now I’m in a psych ward. Dam I f**’d up big time. I’m thinking it’s time for me to change my life around. I put my mom and my girlfriend, along with my entire family through hell. I tried to kill myself in front of my mom and little brother. During the 2 week period that I was in the psych ward, they had me basically medicated. I was a zombie. So I finally told the nurses, “I’m not crazy. It was a chemical reaction that’s what made me tried to commit suicide”. They said they knew I wasn’t psycho and I should not be on this floor but they kept giving me medication. I felt like I was in jail. I remember going to classes. I was listening to everyone’s story in a circle. It really opened my eyes. But when the circle got around to me they asked me if I wanted to say something but I wasn’t ready to talk about it. The next day I was like, what the f*** I ended up opening up and telling my story and a lot of people in there couldn’t believe it. You weren’t trained by Dicky [Eklund] and Micky [Ward]. No one believed that. It definitely helped me to get it off my chest. At one point, they informed me I had to see a Psychiatrist and wanted to hypnotize me and asked me questions. I’m thinking I don’t know that this sh*t is gonna work. I don’t’ believe in this. She mentioned to me that it brings you back to when I was a little kid. I was like oh sh*t. We tried it and it worked. After about an hour session I woke up. She mentioned I had an unbelievable story. OMG I wanted to know more and what did I say? She preceded to tell me how I overcame a lot. I was always number one in my family. I was put on a pedestal. During my high school years I was a superstar in football, the caption of my football team and how football was my passion. I didn’t even care about boxing. Dicky started training me for football with footwork and endurance. Boxing was a side kick. My main focus was football. I was on top of the world. I didn’t give a sh*t about anything. Even my grades. I didn’t have to go to school. I was told to score a touchdown and I’d get an “A”. At the same time I was getting recruited by division colleges. My friend Darren went on to succeed but I didn’t cause I have a big head, ego got in the way and I thought football was gonna take me to the next level. I flunked the SAT. After that the only letters I received from colleges were all rejections. I just thought football would take me to the next level. After I graduated and failing entering the National Guard, my dad took me down to West End Gym. Dicky trained me and the first time I entered in the golden gloves I lost. Dicky was the one that approached me and said hey do you want to do another shot at boxing? We are gonna put everything into. The second time around I won the Golden Gloves at heavyweight. I was 205. I was lifting weights then and I only had 10 fights. After that Dicky asked me with your style of fighting, he said how about we go pro and I was like what? He was figuring if I was going to be hit in the head I might as well go pro. So we had a meeting with the family and I turned pro. No one around here would give me a shot to be on their card. So I flew down to Florida to do my 1st pro fight I beat the guy and won by TKO in round 1. I got my first knockout and of course the newspapers blew it up. So I had a meeting with Rich Cappiello, Rich signed me to a promotional contract. I was undefeated. Everyone was saying I could be the next Micky Ward. And here comes the big boom. I faced Andre Hemphill (5-5-1). I’ll never forget at the weigh in I came in at about 173 and my opponent 178. I faced him and I was thinking I got this. Everyone was filling up my head. I was young back then. Maybe 22 years old so I’m cocky and I’m ko’ing people out and I was filling things in my head. I sold a ton of tickets that night. I didn’t want to let my fans down. When I got in the ring he increased a ton of weight. He had to at least weight 205. I’m not afraid of no one. I don’t care how big he is. During the 1st round he broke the right side of my jaw. Corner asked me if I was ok. My bones were broken. My jaw went thru my teeth. During round 2 I had to hold my jaw in place with my right hand. Then he thrown a right hook and now my right side is gone. My left side has no support. Now he got my left jaw. My jaw is hanging right now. I didn’t quit. I go into the 3rd round. I’m fighting but I don’t know how I continued. I was swallowing all the blood cause I knew the doctor would stop the fight. Even the commentators are saying there was something wrong with my mouth. He hit me with an uppercut and I was still beating him every round. At the end of the 3rd. He hit me and everything started to spin and I took a knee and I told the referee to stop the fight. And I’m pointing at my mouth and the referee is still counting. After the fight I had surgery, they wired my mouth shut for about 7-8 weeks. I couldn’t eat or speak. I went thru so many pills and depression creeped in again. I was in so much pain. I had to take that medicine to calm the pain. I had titanium plates in my jaw. My jaw was chattered. I couldn’t go out. I couldn’t talk to my friends and the only thing I could do is eat baby food through a straw and at that time I just lost it. I couldn’t take the pain no more. I snapped. I was trapped in my house for weeks. Once the wires out of my mouth I told my mom I wanted to get back into boxing. It’s just something I want to prove to a ton of people. My mom thought I was crazy. So now I’m training with the Rivera Brothers. The first fight back since I broke my jaw was against Chris Traietti (7-0-0). Everyone was nervous to see what would happen once I got back in the ring since my jaw was broken but it didn’t break. After that fight, I signed with Burchfield.
Then in 2010, I got jumped and stabbed 7 times while I went out with my friends while I got hit in the back of head. No idea to this day why. Now I’m in the hospital and they are saying they missed my kidney by an inch. But I’m alive can I still box? The doctors informed me I got hit badly in the stomach but the doctor said it was my call. I didn’t want to give up just yet. So I continued fighting and kept going. I got my shot in Vegas. I lost and I went into depression again.
So back to the physicist when I was put under, I woke up and I told her everything. I wanted to know honestly what is wrong with me. She informed me that I have been diagnosed and I should have been treated years ago for it. First and foremost I was diagnostic with the worst depression she has seen in over 10 years. While I was up and down in my career the chemicals in my mind were reacting. I was always up and down. That’s depression. Along with depression I’m 100% bipolar. I have horrible mood swings. I’m a different Joey at certain times. I have ADH and ADHD that’s why I always had trouble in school. I never listened. I was never taking any type of medication to make me focus or to stabilize me. So now I’m thinking what do I do now with my life. Then I’m thinking thank GOD that I tried to commit suicide otherwise I’d probably would be dead. I just didn’t care about things.
Currently I’m still seeing my psychiatrist and I’m 100% better now. I’m totally focused. I don’t drink, I don’t party anymore. I’m in the best shape of my life. If I can get help other people can get help too. I wish it didn’t go down like that just cause things go your way you need to go to the liquor store or do heroine, everyone is dying right now. My story is that I’m back and everyone is gonna see a whole new Joey and I’m gonna shock everyone. I train differently. I’m focused. People are always gonna think how they are gonna think. A lot of jaws are gonna drop once they see me. My weight is down. I’m fighting at 160 pounds. I’m stronger and faster now. My wind is there. My family and girlfriend is behind me. She’s been there for everything. It’s personal to me.
Next week on the 18th is my comeback fight. If I lose I will be retiring in the ring and thanking all my fans, family, Twin River and Rhode Island for always believing in me and supporting me through my years along with my many ups and downs. If I lose I’ll walk away from boxing for life with my head held high and leave my heart and soul, blood and tears in the ring where it’s suppose to be. I’m putting everything on the line. All my struggles, all the pain.
Put yourself in my shoes Pattee. This was extremely hard opening up to you but it had to be told because I want people to know if I can get help anyone can too.
Thank you Pattee for taking the time to listen to what I had to say. I wanted to get my story out and I hope that it could help other individuals out there who are going through the same trials that I was going through. It isn’t easy but anything is possible in life.
One more very important note. I want to reach out to my family and say that I love them and one of the best things in life that ever happened to me was my sweet heart girlfriend, April.
Pattee Mak: In closing I’m sure we all have a bit of McCreedy in all of us. No one is perfect. Each and every one of us goes through life’s struggles in different ways and the outcome will always be to try and overcome. I want to thank everyone who reads my life story and please pass it on and share it to others because you never know if someone is just putting up a fake smile but behind that smile is a really depressed person who needs help.
Photo by Tony Pech Photography