Paddy Holohan - ‘The Hooligan’ releases his autobiography

By Hayden Moore

Paddy Holohan is a name synonymous with not only the world of Irish Mix Martial Arts but with Jobstown and more recently podcasting – and now he has an autobiography titled ‘Hooligan’.

Since retiring from the MMA in 2016 with a rare blood deficiency called Factor XIII, the former UFC star has been on a whirlwind journey having opened his gym SBG D24 and stepped into the world of politics earlier this year.

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Paddy Holohan (Photos by Mark Dixon)

His book is an insight into the life of The Hooligan where he goes right back into his early life growing up in Jobstown and living with his aunt in Belfast at the tail-end of the Troubles.

This week, Paddy caught up with The Echo to talk about his exposure to death at a young age, running a door-to-door video rental business with his uncle and his podcast ‘No Shame’.

Was there a moment when you thought, I should write this story down?

Do you know what, actually I started keeping a shoebox of all these things before I even started MMA or anything – the gloves from my first fight are in it and all these other things from over my life.

If you go and flick through it it’s like a timeline of my life. It’s mad I was looking back through it for the clipping from the newspaper article about me walking home from Our Lady’s and I brought it into this meeting with the publishers, it was strange.

I would advise anybody though who thought about writing a book to start collecting things in a shoebox.

In the book the way you describe Jobstown is something that many will relate to who come from similar backgrounds, in particular the line “I grew up in hell, six miles from heaven . . .”

I don’t think people actually realise what we’re used to.

Some of the stuff we’ve seen has just become so normalised and recently, since I’ve become a councillor, I’ve seen even more mad stuff.

I saw three cars speeding up and down the road smashing into each other, like a demolition derby. As a society, the thing is, that has become normal around here.

You’ve had quite the life, and been exposed to quite a lot of death from an early age. What kind of an effect does that have on a kid?

For me it made me kind of realise that it’s a real thing and appreciate life more because as a kid and even as an adult sometimes you think you’re going to live forever.

You see somebody sick and you never look at them and think ‘oh that could be me’ you know? That’s until it comes to your door.

We waste our time on so much bull**** and hate each other based on the colours of skin, different opinions and all this other s***e.

I learned from a very early age to not take things too seriously because one day I would be hanging around with someone and then the next day they’re just gone.

One thing that I’ve been thinking about, and I’m not religious, but on the 3rd of May, 1988 Patrick Pearse Holohan was born right? I wasn’t around when I was conceived, but where was I before that? Because I was definitely somewhere and when I have to go, I have to go somewhere.

One aspect of the book is you talk about being the video man? I think a lot of people would remember you going around door-to-door.

I started with my uncle when I was 11, it was called Video Express. It was legit as well, we had all of the licences for it, so don’t think we were going around selling pirate videos – we hated the pirates.

We used to sell three videos for a tenner and that was a steal compared to what you’d be paying in Xtravision and Chartbusters.

I learned so much doing it, going around different council estates. You’re in Fettercairn and then you go up to Ballymore Eustace – they’re so different, but I was able to learn a lot about different people and business.

My uncle used to always tell me not to count your money in front of people so that you don’t let people think you’re doing well because my uncle would get a new van and you’d get people saying things like ‘I’m paying for that van am I?’.

I really grew up on that round and a lot of the people I’m talking to now as a councillor, I’m talking to a lot of the same people as I did on the video round.

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Paddy Holohan (Photos by Mark Dixon)

You had to retire young because of your blood condition, but through all of the testing and everything this is something you hid from the world of MMA?

All of those blood and urine tests are different, I had Factor XIII and it’s so rare that you literally have to test specifically for that.

I was so lucky because I was the only person in Ireland to have it and nobody knew what it was, only a doctor in Canada had experienced the same case I would never have known.

It’s a blood-borne disease, so it can’t be passed onto opposition, but that was the main reason I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want anybody treating me different, thinking it was something that could be transferable.

What did it feel like when it all kind of caught up with you and you had to retire because of it?

Heartbreaking but liberating as well, because it’s something I had a long time and I knew that if it had have been out there then the UFC wouldn’t have taken a chance on me.

I knew that all I needed was to get in to build some sort of name around myself, but that if it came out one day there was a 50/50 chance whether I would fight again.

You’ve delved into podcasting recently with ‘No Shame’, what is it that drew you to record now over 100 episodes?

I speak to so many different interesting people in the gym, I’d end up having a two-hour conversation with somebody who had a PhD in History and I just thought that I should do this.

If I can put my name beside something then people will trust it, I wanted to build a platform that was reliable. That’s how it came about and it’s not just famous people either. I’d have a gravedigger on because that’s interesting.

In four episodes we will have been doing it for two years, haven’t missed a week in the last 100 weeks.

We don’t earn anything off it – I’ve had a few sponsors reaching out, but we’re now looking at taking them and giving the money to charities for the homeless.

Becoming a councillor, is that something that young Paddy Holohan from Jobstown ever could have imagined?

Not really to be honest. I was looking around at how I could change things and the podcast led to that.

I didn’t want my son coming to me one day and saying ‘Dad, what did you do when there was a homeless crisis’ and what would I say ‘nothing’? Look, I’m not religious or anything but throughout my life I get these signs of what to do next and I just knew that, right, this is it, this is the next sign.

‘Hooligan’ by Paddy Holohan and Richard Barrett is available online and in stores nationwide for €18.99.

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