THE STORY OF a Tipperary boxer that helped found one of South America’s most famous football teams is one that you might not know.
It’s the amazing story of Paddy McCarthy and is set to be told in a four-part documentary that will be broadcast on Tipp Mid West Radio beginning on Wednesday.
McCarthy left his hometown of Cashel, Tipperary at the age of 29 in the year 1900 to travel to Argentina.
Five years later he was instrumental in setting up Boca Juniors, the Buenos Aires club that was the launchpad for Diego Maradona and is part of one of football’s greatest rivalries.
This happened by way of his day job, as a teacher.
While working as a PE teacher in a local school, he is said to have introduced three young Buenos Aires friends to football.
The friends, so the story goes, we so hooked on the game that they founded the club from a park bench in the La Boca area of Buenos Aires.
McCarthy was central to the early days of the club and was given the honour of refereeing the first ever match between Boca Juniors and local rivals River Plate.
A game that has since become known as the Superclásico.
It’s speculated by some, including in the documentary, that Boca Juniors’ famous blue and gold kit is a homage to the colours of McCarthy’s home county of Tipperary.
The more readily accepted theory, however, is that the colours came from a Swedish flag on a ship that was docked in Buenos Aires port around 1907, when the colours were adopted.
As well as his influence on Argentinian football, the documentary by Tom Hurley also looks at McCarthy’s life in the country which also saw him compete in what’s considered to be the country’s first ever professional boxing match.
Research from Hurley has also uncovered new information and documents relating to McCarthy including photographs of him with President of Argentina, the Duke of Kent and the Prince of Wales when they visited Buenos Aires in 1931.
His later life remains more of a mystery and it’s believed he died in 1963 at the age of 92.
The Cashel Pioneer by Tom Hurley will be aired over four Wednesdays at 11.05am on Tipp Mid West Radio beginning on 19 April. It will also be streamed on tippmidwestradio.com