The Jim O'Hara Story:

Boxing, Dignity & StReet Smarts

O'Hara, circa 1945, first to last a boxing man

Editor’s note: An attorney and past Mayor of Roseville, Dan Wall served a decade as a Minnesota Boxing Commissioner.


Jim O’Hara was a Minnesota boxing legend long before I came to know him. At my first pro fight as a member of the Board of Boxing in February 1992, Jim put his arm around my neck and marched me to the middle of the arena. “See that ring? That’s the only thing square about boxing.” So said Jim on the need for vigilance, and with that he went back to his pre-fight duties as the Executive Secretary of the Board, leaving me alone to ponder what I had gotten myself into.

Over the next 10 years I had the time of my life working with and learning from one of boxing’s greatest gentlemen, scholars and teller of tales.

Steve O’Hara, Jim’s son, gives us an insider’s look at his dad’s boxing career as well as his private life and times. It’s an account of a man who could freeze your blood with a low growl or melt your heart with a tender smile. The author writes warmly about the hardship and loss of his parents’ early years. Jim grew up fast in St. Paul’s roughest neighborhood where you had to be savvy and tough enough to earn the respect of your peers. Along the way he rubbed shoulders with St. Paul’s movers and shakers as well its shadier citizens. Without benefit of a high school diploma, Jim established himself as a successful businessman and community leader and, with Kitty, raised a family of four children and many grandchildren.

When Jim’s dander was up you wanted to be a million miles away. At all other times you wanted to be close enough to bask in the glow of his gentle spirit and Irish wit. No one cared more for the safety and welfare of the fighter and no one brought more integrity to the “sweet science” than Jim O’Hara.

This is a compelling story laced with anecdotes from an interesting and notable cast of characters, an inspiring tale of an honorable life lived to the fullest.

Dan Wall
September 2012