BOXING is so beset with tragedies and hard-luck stories that it’s pleasing to write about a fighter who found success in an entirely new sphere after leaving the roped square. Birkenhead-born Pat McAteer emigrated to America in 1957, founded a successful business there and enjoyed a sumptuous lifestyle, after winning a Lonsdale Belt outright.
Liverpool fight fans who are in their twilight years will not need reminding that McAteer was a quality boxer who only lost to top-class men. Long unbeaten runs were rare in the 1950s, but “Pat Mac”, as he was known, stormed to 40-0 before tasting defeat as a pro. Part of a well-known Liverpool fight family, several of Pat’s relatives punched for pay, including his cousin Les, a fellow British and Empire middleweight titlist. More recently, the McAteer sporting name was kept alive by Pat’s footballing nephew Jason, the former Liverpool and Ireland midfielder.
Pat’s first taste of pugilism arrived through a local boys’ club, after which he joined the Provincial ABC under trainer Johnny Campbell. As an amateur McAteer reached the 1952 ABA light-middleweight semi-finals, losing to the brilliant Bruce Wells. After that, Pat turned pro alongside club mate Joe Bygraves, and Johnny Campbell left the amateur ranks to become their manager. McAteer made his paid debut in September 1952 with a second-round KO of Arthur Lewis of Oswestry. Instead of handing Pat his £10 purse money, Campbell placed it in a savings account and gave his charge the book. He was steering Pat in the right direction and the young man took the hint. Aside from buying his parents their first TV set following his fifth fight, McAteer was frugal with his ring earnings.