Fighting fit for a brighter future

I can’t tell you how proud I felt when Carl Frampton rolled back the boxing years to bring the glory of the ring back to Belfast.

I’d like to admit that I’m personally more suited to lacrosse (I’m not, as it happens, but it sounds good) and my gob, thankfully, has never encountered the wrong end of a glove. These fake lashes – let me tell you – are inviolate.

But thon lad’s done something really special. He’s won a world title. He’s kicked some really serious boxing ass (for beating Kiko Martinez was no cakewalk). And he’s brought the whole of Northern Ireland together.

We do punch above our weight in the square ring. Think about Rinty Monaghan. Think about the one they called ‘Wee Red’, although not for too long, lest the flame-haired puncher-turned-snapper, who’s reasonably content to be called Hugh Russell these days, gets nasty.

(Och he won’t, for Hugh is an absolute gentleman.)

It’s a long and proud tradition. Norn Irn’s fists of fury have given us a special profile that others can only envy. How mad would the excitable English media have been if they’d had a Paddy Barnes or a Michael Conlon in the Commonwealth Games.

No, we seriously kicked English ass. And every ass, actually.

And Paddy, by the way, is the dacentest lad you ever could meet.

There is genuinely a wee shiver running down my spine as I write this, for I feel so proud that a working-class lad from Tiger’s Bay has shown that he’s the best in the world. And that means that we’re the best in the world too.

I’m not from Tiger’s Bay and I’m not even from Belfast. But I feel proud that one of our own has done it for us.

Carl Frampton is boxing’s Rory McIlroy. He can do an interview without trying to sound American, he never mentions Pebble (Beach) and he can do a mean air-guitar cover of ‘Smoke on the Water’ in his boxing trunks.

Boxing is a rarity in sporting terms here, for it genuinely does bring people together. My own dalliance with the multi-roped square circle came to an abrupt end when I realised that I didn’t like the taste of blood – especially when it was my own.

No other sport can achieve anything similar. Football always has an edge to it, GAA moreso, and hockey, as once described by @squinter, is a game ‘of men at right angles’. Rugby’s just about got there and cricket’s on its way.

No such distinctions in boxing. You’re never a Prod and you’re never a Taig. Did anyone really care what foot Barry McGuigan kicked with? No. It was what he punched with. Dave Boy? Wayne McCullough?

Barry brought everyone together in the 80s, a dangerous time when religion did matter. The lad from Clones united Trillick Taig and Portavogie Prod.

Now it’s the turn of the @theRealCFrampton. It’s a heavy-duty repsonsibility but all he has to do is be himself.

He’s genuine. He’s open. He’s honest. And … he’s just Carl Frampton.

I made up the bit about the ‘Smoke on the Water’ air-guitar thing. It’s quite possible that he can’t do it. But who cares! He’s our world champion and we love him.

Tiger’s Bay abú!


  • Tacapall

    I would agree with most of what you said Ian and well done to Jamie Conlan and Marco McCullough too. It doesn’t matter if your a Taig or a Prod in boxing around these parts but unfortunately it does matter how you define your nationality, even though a good number of those “One of our owns” have the option of dual nationality they were lumped with having to endure the raising of a loyalist banner to represent their Irish nationality, the likes of Barnes and Conlan, and the goings on in Glasgow behind the scenes that the world didn’t see or didn’t hear about where some of those boxers families were banned from entering the stadium because they carried Irish tricolours

  • Michael Henry

    Ian- ” Football has a edge to it,GAA moreso “- What’s wrong lad- can you just not comment on a great nights Boxing a great nights sport without putting the boot into the GAA by implying that the GAA has the worst edge to it than any other sport-

    You don’t want everyone to fit together – the message is lost to yourself Mr divider-

  • babyface finlayson

    I don’t see that in the piece at all. GAA does not really bring people together here that is just a matter of fact.
    Well done young Carl. His grandad Hughie, would have been proud of him.

  • Michael Henry

    Well I Quoted what Ian said even if you can’t see it-he said the GAA had more of a edge to it that football -( soccer )-you can’t help yourself either with you saying that the GAA can’t bring people together -you must be happy with every other sport on this matter as you just talk about the GAA- is the problem jealousy- 81000 at one GAA match today and thousands at several other GAA events- people together is the GAAs middle name-

  • babyface finlayson

    What do you mean I can’t help myself?
    Firstly I didn’t say the GAA can’t bring people together, I said it does not. I have no doubt they are working hard to be more inclusive,but at this moment in time I don’t think they are bringing together protestant catholic and dissenter.Do you?
    Secondly,how could I be jealous? I pay little attention to local sport.
    I happened to know Carl Frampton’s grandad Hugh who passed away recently so I am glad to see Carl doing well.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    He doesn’t represent me at all and I’m certainly no fan of him.

  • Tacapall

    Is that because he’s married to a Catholic Joe and you being an Orangeman an all.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Yes, that’s the reason.

  • Big Yellow Crane

    There were flag police at Commonwealth facilities? When 71 countries were there all with different flags? Were they on the look out for the flag of the Irish Republic in particular? Who were these flag police anyway – the volunteer stewards? It’s an odd bit of gatecrashing anyway – demanding recognition of a national/political identity at the Commonwealth Games when that national/political identity wants nothing to do with the Commonwealth.

  • Tacapall

    “There were flag police at Commonwealth facilities”

    Take Jonathan Powell’s advice BYC, dont have an opinion on things you know nothing about.

  • Big Yellow Crane

    Lol. When the nasty Games volunteers were frisking people for tricolours did they check carefully to make sure they weren’t Indian flags? Might have been embarrassing if they’d banned the Indian flag. There were some simple rules for flags at the Games. No handles over a metre, no flags more than two metres by one metre. No flags with political slogans – ie “Yes”, “Better Together” or otherwise political flags. Paddy Barnes has called for a new NI flag by the way. Do you agree with him or should nationalists keep insisting on “both or neither” so we can force anyone trying to represent NI to use the Stormont banner and then complain about how hard done by we are.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Surely the only fair action would be to have the tricolour as the official sport’s flag for NI.

  • Tacapall

    Why shouldn’t Barnes complain about the loyalist banner after all it has no official status in Ireland and if the union flag represents the British then the tricolour represents the Irish and if your born and bred in Ireland then you are Irish so we really dont need a new flag do we.

  • carl marks

    really Joe, what is the reason?

  • carl marks

    Carl is a credit to us all, enjoyed the fight and whooped when he won. a great night!