The eldest of 7 children from Ringsend, Ireland, Big Joe, as he is affectionately known, has led what can only be described as a life full of great memories, people and events, but it wasn't always easy: "I started to box, not only as my father was a keen boxer, but also to stand up to playground bullies. I had to learn to look after myself."
Joe's start in boxing came when his father, who had been an amateur boxer, put the gloves on to see how Joe would shape up. Learning to box at the Earlsfield Amateur Boxing Club aged just 10; Joe fought hard and gave all he had. Dublin's Phoenix Club was the venue for his first fight, but his opponent, Junior Champion Steve Collins turned out to be quite a challenge for the 12 year old: "He pounded me to a pulp, absolutely hammered me. I lost on points but I went the distance."