Inducted on November 12, 1998

James “Buddy” McGirt was born on January 17, 1964 and he had his first professional bout on March 2, 1982, boxing a draw against Lamont Haithcoach. He would win every other bout for the next four-and-a-half years, winning the California Junior Welterweight title with a 5th round TKO over Sugar Boy Nando. His only loss in his first 40 bouts came against Frankie Warren in 1986, but a year-and-a-half later Buddy would knock out Warren and in doing so win the IBF Jr. Welterweight Championship of the World. After losing his title to Meldrick Taylor, he put together 21 straight victories and on November 29, 1991 would win his second world title by beating Simon Brown for the WBC World Welterweight Championship. At that time, Brown was considered just about unbeatable, but Buddy won the bout going away with his outstanding boxing skills.

After that bout, Buddy was considered as one of the best “pound for pound” boxers in the world. Soon after he injured his left shoulder and he couldn’t throw his left hook the way he wanted too and he would never be the same again. Still he did put on two great bouts against Pernell Whitaker, even putting him down in the first bout but not being able to use his left hook anymore he just couldn’t finish the job.

Buddy boxed for several years later and retired early in 1997 with an outstanding record of 73 wins, 6 losses, 1 draw and 48 knockouts.

James Walter “Buddy” McGirt was born on January 17, 1964, in the small town of Brentwood, New York. An American boxing trainer and retired boxer, standing at 5′ 6½″ he fought at 146 lbs. in the welterweight and light welterweight divisions. During his ring tenure, he won the IBC Light Middleweight Championship of the World, the Lineal, the WBC Welterweight Championship of the World,the IBF world title at light welterweight and the WBC Continental Americas Light Welterweight Championship.

  • Name: Buddy McGirt
  • Birth Name: James Walter McGirt
  • Born: 01/17/1964
  • Birthplace: Brentwood, New York, USA
  • Nationality: US American
  • Stance: Orthodox
  • Height: 5′ 6½″ / 169 cm
  • Reach: 70″ / 178 cm
  • Weight: 146 lbs (66.2 kg)
  • Trainer: Al Certo
  • Manager: Al Certo
  • Division: Welterweight, Light welterweight
  • Record: Won 73 (KO 48) Lost 6 (KO2) Drawn 1= 80 rounds boxed. KO%60[1]

Professional boxing career

McGirt’s aspirations of becoming a professional boxer existed at an incredibly young age.”They said I was too small,” McGirt says now. “They said I couldn’t do it. I said I could. I said I’d be the first world champion from Long Island – so the guy they said couldn’t do it is the one who did it.”[2] Fulfilling this childhood dream, he did so with a vengeance, turning professional in the year 1983, the year he graduated from Brentwood High School.

In 1988, McGirt defeated Frankie Warren, avenging what was at that time his only defeat, to win the IBF light welterweight title.[3] In his second defense, he lost the title to Meldrick Taylor.[4]

In November 1991, he defeated Simon Brown to win the Lineal and WBC welterweight titles.[5][6]

Buddy was a scrappy, talented fighter who had an outstanding career in the ring. He defeated men such as Simon Brown, Livingstone Bramble, Saoul Mamby, Edwin Curet, Howard Davis, Frankie Warren, Tony Baltazar, Gennaro Leon, Patrizio Oliva, Gary Jacobs, Tommy Ayers, Willie Rodriguez, Ralph Twinning, Buck Smith, Kevin Pompey, Rafael Williams, John Senegal, Eric Martin, Joe Manley, Tyrone Moore, Nick Rupa, Joe Gatti and George Heckley.

At the beginning of 1993, McGirt was the world’s top-ranked 147-pound boxer, one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world; but in the first week starting off the year he tore up his left shoulder while training. Without his money punch, the left hook, he had to box virtually one-handed for a total of 24 rounds in two championship fights. He won the first fight, but he lost his title in the second. McGirt lost the title to Pernell Whitaker in 1993.[7] The following year, he again lost to Whitaker in an attempt to regain the title. In 1997, he retired with a record of 73-6-1 (48 KOs).

Career as a boxing trainer

Following his retirement from the ring, “Buddy” has been quite successful working with up-and-coming young fighters, as a trainer.

“It took Buddy McGirt six years to become a world champion. It took him just six days to become the trainer of a champion.”[8] The fighter he trained first was super middleweight Byron Mitchell. Scheduled a mere six days after becoming his coach, was the fight against Manny Siacca for WBA title. The fight ended with a hook to the body followed with a quick hook to the head, knocking Siacca out. Becoming an instant champion, McGirt knows its usually not that easy.

He’s a full-time trainer now and is committed to the challenge of preparing others to step into the ring. “Anybody can train but not many people can teach,” McGirt said. “And that’s what boxing is missing now, teachers. There are not many old-school trainers around.”[8] McGirt trains many top ranked fighters, including Antonio Tarver, Timo Hoffmann and James McGirt Jr.. He has recently taken 3 English fighters, Paul Smith, Brian Mihtar, Matthew Macklin, and Audley Harrison. He won the Boxing Writers’ Association of America Trainer of the Year Award for 2002.

Some of his high-profile fights have ended in defeats for his fighters, including Lamon Brewster who lost his WBO title in a rematch to Wladimir Klitschko, (IBF, WBO, Ring Magazine Heavyweight champion), Antonio Tarver who lost to Bernard Hopkins, Tomasz Adamek who lost WBC title to Chad Dawson, Paulie Malignaggi who lost to Ricky Hatton (which saw Malignaggi leave McGirt in search of a new trainer), and Arturo Gatti who was KO’d by Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Carlos Baldomir. However, McGirt has had some successes in title fights of some of his fighters. Those successes include Antonio Tarver’s two victories over Roy Jones Jr., Vernon Forrest’s victories over both Carlos Baldomir and Sergio Mora, and Arturo Gatti‘s victories over Gianluco Branco, Leonard Dorin, Jesse James Leija, and Thomas Damgaard.

McGirt’s son, James McGirt Jr., is also a professional boxer. McGirt also trains Kurt Pellegrino‘s boxing, his first venture into MMA.

Buddy was trained and managed by Al Certo and Stuart Weiner. McGirt and some of the fighters he trains are documented in the book “Bring it to the Ring: A Boxing Yearbook and Inspirational Message to Today’s Youths.” The book was published in 2005.

See also


  1. “Buddy McGirt”. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  2. Myers, Donald. “The summer of sweat buddy mcgirt, brentwood’s dethroned welterweight, fights his way back”. Newsday. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  3. Matthews, Wallace. The Buddy System, Newsday, February 28, 1988
  4. Berger, Phil. Taylor Stops McGirt in 12th For I.B.F. Title, The New York Times, September 4, 1988
  5. Big Win For Little Mac, Sports Illustrated, December 9, 1991
  6. McGirt gets chance, captures welter title, Reading Eagle, December 1, 1991
  8. Cassidy, R. “BOXING / McGirt starts his training career on top”. Newsday. Retrieved 10 December 2012.

Regional & Minor Titles

  • WBC Continental Americas super lightweight champion (1985-1986, 1987)
  • IBC junior middleweight title (1996)

Career Factoids


Since his retirement as a boxer, McGirt has become a highly regarded trainer. He won the Boxing Writers Association of America Trainer of the Year Award for 2002.



Trainer: Al Certo
Manager: Al Certo
James (Buddy) McGirt Gallery

Boxing Record: click