Boston College Sports
September 18, 2003
Boston's Hurricane On The 'Canes
Ryan Burke Staff Writer

Miami and Isabel can't compare to Boston's Hurricane.
This weekend is the culmination of many forces of nature. We have young men going head-to-head in a nationally televised football game. We have thousands of passionate fans descending upon Chestnut Hill to cheer on their respective sides. And we have Hurricanes.

The Boston College football team faces their biggest test of the year as the mighty Miami Hurricanes blows into town. We also have Hurricane Isabel sweeping up the East Coast about to wreak havoc. What does this all mean for Saturday's clash? Who fully understands the powers of these two forces? How about another Hurricane. A local one.

Hurricane Peter McNeeley.

I caught up with McNeeley this week to discuss the game this weekend, the forces of nature, and the task of facing a mighty, seemingly insurmountable opponent. McNeeley definitely knows the latter.

McNeeley is a local guy who grew up in Medfield, fighting his way to a glossy record that set him up to face Mike Tyson – Tyson's first bout after his release from prison. We all know what happened in that one round of boxing, but McNeeley, the epitome of an underdog, forever etched his name in boxing history.

Before drawing on McNeeley's perspective on the game, I first wanted to establish his credibility related to Boston College. First, is he a fan?

"Of course I am!," McNeeley enthusiastically replied.

Ok. Good.

The last time BC was able to overcome Miami was the infamous Flutie pass. Remember, Peter?

"I was watching it live on my ma's couch in Medfield."


When asked if he has any affiliation with BC locally, his response was typical McNeeley.

"You know how many times I have run around that #@#!*# reservoir? That reservoir got me in shape for a lot of fights."

I never knew.

Now that we know our own Hurricane has BC loyalty, BC history, and some BC sweat to his name, we can better understand his perspective on this weekend's football storm at the Heights. He also dated a BC graduate for almost eight years. (Add experience to the above list.)

Wait....the name!? How does an Irish kid from Massachusetts get the nickname of a powerful force of nature? (Of course I asked.)

Both McNeeley's father and grandfather fought under the name "Irish Tom." Like every other boxer, McNeeley was searching for an appropriate nickname early in his career. On the eve of his first professional fight, August 23, 1991, Hurricane Bob was rolling into the Northeast. Usually not a problem for a boxing match, but McNeeley's fight was outside – at Nickerson field. (How is BU's football squad this year anyway?)

McNeeley fought that day, outside, and ever since he has been known as Hurricane Peter McNeeley. (Warning: do NOT screw up the order of his name.....I learned the hard way.)

After a pro career that featured an unbelievable number of first round knockouts and a short bout versus Tyson, McNeeley is back to being an everyday Boston local. He lives in town, spends his time with various charities (most recently with Make-A-Wish Foundation), teaches boxing classes (Boston Sports Club on Newbury Street), and is still not retired from fighting.

"I am not officially retired, and let me tell you, the phone is still ringing," he said in his thick local accent, still brimming with confidence.

For all of McNeeley's endeavors, he will nonetheless forever be known as the guy who fought Mike Tyson. That is where his name was made, and that is his place in history. Like BC this weekend, McNeeley was an underdog. A big one.

As McNeeley will attest, preparing to face a dominant opponent, on a national stage, is a mentally challenging task. What advice does he give to the BC players who are going through the preparations, physically and mentally, to face Miami on ESPN Saturday night?

"Never let the event take over."

I don't think head coach Tom O'Brien could say it better. This advice will take on significant importance to the young BC players who have not experienced a game of this magnitude or exposure.

"You go out and practice hard, and you have a great practice, and you get that game face on, and then you bring that game face to the Show. You bring it to the Show!"

I am getting fired up at this point.

Whatever you say about Peter McNeeley's performance against Tyson, you cannot dispute the courage it took him to get into the ring with a recently released madman.....I mean, Tyson.

At this point, McNeeley was rolling and I wanted to jump through the phone to stick a stool under him, imagining himself standing in the Alumni Stadium locker room Saturday night addressing the BC players.

"Facing an opponent like this, you have to take the story of fire and fear.....under the stress of fear, it's what the hero does that makes him a hero.....and it's what the coward doesn't do that makes him a coward! BC needs to step up, baby!"

I love it.

I can see now why McNeeley has had success as a boxing coach -- Mickey would be proud. With the Hurricane team and Hurricane Isabel descending upon us, I wanted to know how our own Hurricane thought our boys would fare.

"That Hurricane is going to sweep by and miss us right? I think that Hurricane is going to go the other way and take the Hurricanes (Miami) power with them. Call it karma! We're gonna win, baby!"

He is the expert.

When pressed for a score, McNeeley declined.

"Football, much like boxing, is very unpredictable, I think it is going to be an up and down game but BC's defense will be stubborn......and we will win by a touchdown."

For all you BC fans out there, you heard it from the source. If anyone wanted lockerroom fodder before the game to get them fired up, Hurricane provided it. Not some pretty orange-colored team from the beach, or some weakening force of nature named Isabel, but our Hurricane. Boston's own Hurricane.

Hurricane Peter McNeeley.

(McNeeley said he may fight for the last time in the near future, and I will be there . . . fired up, baby!)
This article was written for, the official sports website of  Boston College.