By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Hard-hitting southpaw Andy Ganigan, a Hawaiian of Filipino descent who won the World Athletic Association lightweight title with a spectaular second round knockout of Sean O' Grady on October 31, 1981 after dropping the Irishman three times in the round has had a tragic ending.
Ganigan, who was 59, passed away. Two years ago he suffered permanent brain damage following an unprovoked assault by a drunken man in Honoulu. Family members were at his bedside when the end came.
The assailant, identified as 21-year-old, 6 foot tall, 290 pound Matthew Kupa who beat up the 5'6", 160 pound Ganigan - pleaded no contest to a first degree assault charge and was sentenced to 18 months in prison and and five years probation some five weeks ago.
The death of Ganigan who was enshrined in the Hawaii Sports Hall of Fame was reported by the Star Advertiser in Honolulu who quoted his niece Michelle Shuw who said "Since the assault his body couldn't fight off diseases. He never recovered."
After initial treatment in Hawaii, Ganigan was transferred to Las Vegas where his eldest daughter and two of his five sons live. It was reported that the family savings were drained by paying for his medical expenses.
Ganigan's sensational KO of O'Grady in 2:08 of the second round in a fight refereed by Larry Hazzard earned the good-looking fighter who was named one of the 100 Greatest Punchers in the Ring Magazine Yearbook in 2003, a crack at the WBC lightweight title of the great Nicaraguan world champion Alexis Arguello on May 22, 1982.
Ganigan dropped Arguello with a vicious combination in the opening round of a title fight telecast by the Philippine government TV station then known as the Maharlika Broadcasting System but coudn't finish him off and was eventually knocked out in the 5th round of a 15 round title bout refereed by Filipino Carlos "Sonny" Padilla.
One year later, Ganigan attempted to regain the North American Boxing Federation lightweight title but lost by a 6th round TKO to Jimmy Paul on June 12, 1983.
Ganigan who made his pro debut with a 2nd round knockout of Mandru Nagaoka on May 19, 1972 ended his career with a recod of 34-5 with 30 knockouts after the loss to Paul.
He won the NABF title with an 8th round TKO of Vicente Saldivar on March 28, 1978 but lost the crown to Johnny Lira by a 6th round knockout at the Blaisdell Center in Honolulu on August 1 that same year.
Ganigan regained the title with a 12 round unanimous decision in a rematch with Saldivar on March 27, 1979 and made two successful title defenses before capturing the world WAA title from O'Grady.
Hawaii news.com reported that Services for Ganigan are set for Saturday, May 26 at St. Joseph's Church in Waipahu.
Visitation will start at 8:30 a.m., with the service beginning at 9 a.m. The service is open to the public.
Ganigan's ashes will be scattered in a private ceremony the next day at Hau Beach, which was one of his favorite spots.