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Boxer Paddy Barnes asked Donald Trump and Playboy's Hefner for Rio funding

By Cate McCurry

Published 26/09/2016

Paddy Barnes
Paddy Barnes
Donald Trump
Hugh Hefner

Olympic hero Paddy Barnes has admitted writing to Donald Trump and Playboy magazine in a desperate bid to raise sponsorship.

The double Olympic bronze medal winner, who captained the Irish team at Rio 2016, was speaking about his struggle to attract funding when he was an amateur boxer.

The north Belfast man said he contacted firms worldwide, as well as the Republican US presidential nominee, to supplement the €40,000 (£34,600) annual funding he receives from Sport Ireland to help cover training and travel costs.

He once famously held a sign appealing for sponsors at the Olympic Games opening ceremony in London 2012, and later pleaded for funders for his Rio trip on his social media account.

The frustration he felt in trying to attract financial support helped sway him towards the professional game, where he can earn a lot more money.

Speaking to the Sunday Business Post, Barnes said: "You get paid per fight and the higher up the ranking you are, the more fights you get and the more money you earn.

"There's no limit on your potential earnings.

"Before the Olympics, I wrote to Playboy, I wrote to Donald Trump, I wrote to every company in the world you can think of (to get sponsorship)."

He also ruled himself out of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo where professional boxers will be eligible to compete.

"The Olympic Games is a money-making machine. A billion-dollar industry.

"They don't care about the athletes. They just care about making money," he claimed. The 29-year-old fighter also said he was in no way unsettled by the fact his new boxing gym, MGM, had been searched by police investigating a Dublin crime family. The Kinahan cartel, run by Christy Kinahan, has been embroiled in a bloody feud with the Hutch gang which, to date, has claimed 10 lives.

Kinahan's son, Daniel, is thought to play a prominent role in operating the gym.

Asked if he had any concern over the links, he said: "None at all, because MGM is Matthew Macklin.

"He is the founder of the gym, and he is my manager and he'll be looking after me.

"I have nothing to do with any criminality. Matthew Macklin is not a criminal. I am not a criminal.

"So if anyone wants to talk about criminality, and about Daniel Kinahan and Christy Kinahan (Daniel's father), they should go ask them themselves," he added.

Daniel Kinahan's alleged prominent position in the MGM was put to Barnes, who questioned whether or not Kinahan was a criminal or actually involved with the gym at all: "You're telling me that, but where's the facts and proof of it?

"So people need to be careful what they are saying if they are slandering people's names. People are saying he's a criminal, but he's been convicted of nothing."

He also said that he would have no problem if Daniel Kinahan wanted to be in his corner at his fight nights. "If he wants to sit in my corner, he can sit in my corner," he stated.

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