Joe Gallagher – Boxing Coach Biography

Joe Gallagher
  • DOB: November 30 1968, Manchester, England
  • Gym: Gallagher Boxing Gym 
  • Location: Woodhouse Park Lifestyle Centre, Wythenshawe, Manchester 
  • Boxing Background: Gallagher began boxing aged 11 at the Wythenshawe Forum ABC in Manchester.  Gallagher would eventually have over 60 amateur bouts.
  • Notable Fighters: Callum Smith, Anthony Crolla, Scott Quigg

Joe Gallagher’s Boxing Background

With his crumpled, lived-in face and slightly disheveled look, boxing trainer Joe Gallagher is instantly recognizable, and because of the success of his stable of fighters, he would seem to have been omnipresent on our TV screens for more than a decade. But don’t be confused – Joe Gallagher might come across as a lovable Northern uncle figure, something of a throwback to when boxing trainers were characters, but there’s much more to him than an image. 

Listen to Gallagher talk and you will hear a deep thinking, highly intelligent and very humane individual, one who respects old school methods in the gym, but is also open to the latest sporting innovations. Gallagher is instantly likeable, and the fact that he has a record at winning fights and titles with his fighters that is second to none makes him the no.1 choice for many talented young pros looking for a coach.  The result is the biggest stable of winners in British boxing today. 

Gallagher began boxing aged 11 at the Wythenshawe Forum ABC in Manchester.  At age 17 he moved to the Moss Side ABC. Gallagher would take part in more than 60 amateur bouts, competing from his teens to his early 20s. By then he was intelligent enough to realize that he was showing the potential to be a much better trainer than fighter, and he hung up his gloves and set about becoming a full time trainer. 

Joe Gallagher Becomes A Trainer 

In 1993 Gallagher became a qualified amateur boxing coach. In those early years when he was a “boxing trainer for hire”, the boxing clubs that he coached at included Moss Side ABC, Benchill ABC, Nicholls Police ABC and Shannons ABC. During that time Gallagher quickly established himself as the brightest, most talented young coach in the North of England, producing a roster of trophy winners  in all UK National Amateur Competitions including Schoolboy, Junior ABA (Amateur Boxing Association), NABC (National Amateur Boxing Champion), Novice and Senior ABA titles. 

Among Gallagher’s first amateur champions at that time were:

  • Levi Tute UK Schoolboy Champion 
  • Scott Mann NABC Champion
  • John Murray UK Schoolboy Champion
  • Owen Trainor 2 x ABA Finalist
  • Joe Murray Bronze medalist at the 2007 in the World Amateur Championships 
  • Steve Foster Jr ABA Champion in 2000, 2001 
  • Hosea Burton 2009 ABA Champion,
  • Zac Burton 2010 Junior ABA Champion 

In 2001 Gallagher took out licenses to both coach and manage boxers professionally. Gallagher began his pro career in the corner of fellow pro debutant Steve Foster Jr. Gallagher’s first success as a pro boxing coach came when journeyman Eddie Nevins won the Central Area super featherweight title in 2003. Gallagher’s first star was John Murray, who became his first British title winner in 2007. In 2008 he opened the Gallagher Boxing Gym.

The Gallagher Boxing Gym quickly became the go-to location for aspiring former amateurs from Manchester and Liverpool. Among Gallagher’s most notable signings would be the Smith brothers from Liverpool, Paul, Stephen, Liam, and Callum, all of whom would become British champions and challenge for world honors, with Liam and Paul winning world titles with Joe Gallagher in their corners. The brothers were a big story in their native Liverpool, a city with no shortage of coaches, yet they sought out Joe Gallagher to train and manage them. 

In the years that followed, Gallagher and his stable of fighters enjoyed a steady stream of headline grabbing success. At one stage, Gallagher’s fighters enjoyed an unbeaten run of 62 bouts, ending when Paul Smith lost to Arthur Abraham in a 2014 WBO super middleweight title fight. The following year Joe Gallagher would be voted Trainer Of The Year for 2015 by both the Ring Magazine & the UK’s Boxing News publication after training Anthony Crolla to the WBA lightweight title. 

Anthony Crolla 

One of the UK’s most popular fighters in recent years and a boxer who is still beloved in Manchester is Anthony Crolla, a real-life “Rocky” who was with Joe Gallagher throughout his 45-bout career (35-7-3, 13 KOs). Tall for a lightweight at 5’9”, Crolla was a good boxer with fast hands, great footwork and the capacity to fight hard all night. 

After a decorated amateur career Crolla turned pro in 2006, winning his first eight fights before dropping a surprise decision to Youssef Al Hamadi in 2008. Five more wins followed before Crolla was outpointed by future British champion Gary Sykes in 2009. Crolla had gone from a bright young prospect into a 13-2 fighter who looked unlikely to reach even domestic title standard. 

However Joe Gallagher saw enough in Crolla to keep faith with the fighter. Crolla won six on the bounce, then challenged John Watson for the vacant British lightweight title. The taller Watson was a slight favorite with the bookies, and dominated the early rounds. A Watson win was looking a foregone conclusion, but in this fight Crolla would dig deeper than he ever had before. In round nine one booming right from Crolla flattened Watson and suddenly he was a British champion. 

Anthony Crolla was now a commodity who looked to have the skill and power to get to the top, but disaster was about to strike. Taking on the shopworn veteran Derry Mathews for what should have been a routine win, Crolla was instead cut and floored, suffering a one-sided six round hammering. Six months later when taking part in Prizefighter, Crolla would lose a three-round rematch to Gary Sykes, and he could only manage a draw with Derry Mathews in a 2013 rematch. At that stage many fighters might have called it a day. However, Joe Gallagher kept faith with Crolla, as did his promoter Eddie Hearn, who knew despite everything the Manchester fans loved him. 

The Golden Years 

Inexplicably, after that string of setbacks Crolla would hit his career best form. He defeated both Gavin Reese and Stephen Foster Jr, then in a huge derby fight in Manchester Crolla stopped local rival John Murray in the 10th to put himself in line for a world title shot. In 2015 Crolla challenged Darleys Perez for the WBA lightweight title, and despite the performance of his life, the fight was judged a draw. In the rematch later that year Crolla took no chances, hammering the Colombian to defeat in five rounds for the title. Incredibly, Anthony Crolla was a world champion, and Joe Gallagher had been proved right.

Crolla would fight eight times more, and thanks to the management and promotion of Joe Gallagher and Eddie Hearn, each was a main event that earned the fighter a lot of money. Ironically, it would be his two losses to the peerless Jorge Linares that would come to define Crolla’s career. Both fights were thrillers, with both men going all out to win, yet showing the deepest respect for each other. In 2019 Crolla challenged the incredible Vasyl Lomachenko in Los Angeles. The bout was criticized yet Crolla was defiant and believed he had the ability to score an upset over the man many argued was the greatest fighter of all time. It never happened, and on the night Crolla was KO’d in four rounds, his only knockout loss.

Scott Quigg

Scott Quigg was something of a rarity in modern boxing – an excellent fighter who reached the very pinnacle of the sport, yet who took part in just 12 amateur fights. Quigg turned pro aged 18 in 2007, and was coached by Pat Barrett for his first 22 bouts – all wins. However, feeling as if he was stagnating as the only pro in what had become a mainly amateur gym, Quigg signed with Joe Gallagher in 2011 and would remain with him for six years, years which encompassed the best results of his career. 

Quigg’s first fight with Gallagher was against Jason Booth for the British super bantamweight title.  Booth’s nickname of “Too Smooth” told you all you need to know about his talent. While somewhat shopworn, Booth was still more than capable of outsmarting Quigg, but instead it was the younger man who took control of the fight early using his sheer strength and determination. 

Gallagher knew that there was little point in trying to alter Quigg’s natural style, because while technically far from perfect, he was extremely effective as he was. Quigg may not have thrown his shots as stylishly as Booth, but what he did was throw thudding, relentless straight punches which wore Booth down, forcing him to quit on his stool after seven rounds.  

World Title 

That fight and those that followed displayed Quigg at his best. Under Gallagher’s guidance Quigg was ultra militant in his approach, rarely wasting a punch, and every punch he threw hurt. Quigg was also so physically and mentally strong he would simply overpower slick boxers and heavy punchers alike. Case in point; en route to a title shot Quigg outmuscled smart boxers Rendall Munroe and Stephane Jamoye, simply walking through them and overpowering them. Against the skillful Japanese fighter Hidenori Otake for the WBA super bantamweight title, Quigg relentlessly outworked him over 12 one-sided rounds. 

Then in his first defense against Kiko Martinez, the most destructive puncher in the division, Quigg floored the accelerator in round one and overwhelmed the Spaniard with the sheer volume of punches, blitzing Martinez in two sensational rounds for the best win of Quigg’s career. 

Unfortunately in his very next bout – a huge unification fight with Carl Frampton – Quigg suffered a broken jaw early. But despite throwing away the first half of the fight as he came to terms with his injury, Quigg pushed the Belfast superstar all the way, ultimately losing a split decision. Losing his world title took a lot out of Quigg, and after one more win later that year, he parted company with Joe Gallagher, relocated to California and trained under Freddy Roach at the Wild Card Gym. In 2018 Quigg lost a decision to Oscar Valdez in a brutal fight in which both men suffered broken jaws.

Then in 2020 Quigg returned to Manchester and linked up once again with Joe Gallagher for a make-or-break bout against Irishman Jono Carroll. Despite Gallagher’s best efforts, Quigg suffered a stoppage defeat in the 11th round, the only time he failed to finish a fight in his career. Quigg announced his retirement soon after, aged just 31. 

Fighters Trained By Joe Gallagher 

Since taking out a professional coaching license in 2001, Joe Gallagher has trained dozens of fighters. Here are just a few of the more famous ones: 

  • Hosea Burton
  • Paul Butler
  • Scott Cardle
  • Anthony Crolla
  • Sam Hyde
  • Callum Johnson
  • Natasha Jonas
  • Marcus Morrison
  • Scott Quigg
  • Callum Smith
  • Liam Smith
  • Paul Smith
  • Stephen Smith