Photo by Dermot Connolly
Oak Lawn boxer Joe Maloney, 21, has recovered from a serious health scare and will make his professional debut on Feb. 10, in Libertyville.
Oak Lawn boxer Joe Maloney, 21, is back in the ring after a serious health scare nearly two years ago, and will be making his professional debut in Libertyville on Feb. 10.
A 2015 graduate of St. Rita High School, Maloney has been boxing since he was 12 years old. He was also a student at St. Catherine of Alexandria School in Oak Lawn.
“My buddy Ken Duggan got me into it. It’s a good hobby, I got picked on a little bit in grammar school, and it helped me gain a lot of self-confidence,” said Maloney on Saturday. “I started out at Palos Courts in Palos Heights.”
Maloney was the 2015 Chicago Golden Gloves champion and 2014 winner of the Title Boxing National Championship. He has 62 amateur bouts under his belt, but his biggest battle came in January, 2016, when he suffered a debilitating hemiplegic migraine headache. It resulted in partial paralysis and other symptoms similar to a stroke, and was brought on by an underlying blood disorder.
He was laid up for seven weeks, including six weeks of physical therapy as an inpatient at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. He also traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to see specialists there.
“It was a long six weeks of therapy,” he said.
“I still go to speech therapy, but physically I am 100 percent. All the doctors at the Mayo Clinic and Oak Lawn gave me the all-clear to get back in the ring.”
He said his mother, Mary, was concerned about him getting back into the ring. But he said she and his father, John Maloney, know how much it means to him.
“When I wasn’t boxing, I was just sitting at home gaining weight,” he said.
“I’m back training twice a day, strength and conditioning in the morning, and boxing in the afternoon,” said Maloney. He trains at Silencer Athletics at 10955 S. Western Ave., in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, as well as at Sam Calonna Boxing, at 2600 W. 35th St. in the city’s Brighton Park neighborhood.
When he is not training, he is working as a bouncer at a bar in Beverly.
“I’m on a special diet. No sugar or bread. It is hard but you get used to it,” he said.
“I’m down about 15 pounds since I saw you a few weeks ago,” Maloney told Oak Lawn Trustee Tim Desmond (1st), during a recent visit to the trustee’s Jack Desmond’s Irish Pub, 10339 S. Ridgeland Ave., in Chicago Ridge.
Maloney was introduced there during the “Irish New Year” festivities on Sunday evening.
“It’s great to have a professional boxer from Oak Lawn,” Desmond said. “It doesn’t happen very often. Here we have a young man, putting himself out there, taking a chance. Hopefully, the whole neighborhood gets behind him.”
Photo by Dermot Connolly
Oak Lawn boxer Joe Maloney (at right) spars with his trainer, Paul Amos.
Maloney is already organizing two buses of supporters to come with him to the Feb. 10 fight against Roman Falagoria at the Libertyville Sports and Fitness Complex, 1950 US 45. The event will be part of a fight night sponsored by Conquer Fight Club.
“I already have one bus full,” he said proudly. The buses will be leaving from Jack Desmond’s.
In order to make sure he is in top shape, he will be heading off soon to a 22-day boxing camp in Detroit, something else he is looking forward to.
“It is will be eat, sleep and train, every day,” said Maloney, who said he looks up to boxers such as Irish Olympian Michael Conlan, who recently turned pro.
“I met him when he was in Chicago,” he said.
“When I come back for the fight in Libertyville, I am going to have my father in my corner, along with my trainer, Paul Amos,” said Maloney.
“I want to thank everyone who has supported me in this,” he added.
Anyone who would like to reserve a spot on the bus going to Libertyville may contact Maloney at (708) 582-9687.
While he has big plans for the future, he is running on a shoestring budget now. He said that anyone interested in a small sponsorship or donation may also call him. All the money raised will go toward equipment and his training camp, he said.