Belfast Telegraph

European champion Paddy is worth his weight in gold

North Belfast’s Paddy Barnes returned home a hero this week after clinching gold at the European Amateur Championships in Moscow.

The 23-year-old light-flyweight has now set his sights on gold in the Commonwealth Games which are being held in India in October — but not before a well-earned rest.

Speaking to the Community Telegraph, Paddy said: “I am just over the moon. It has been hard to take in but I am really delighted.

“It is great to be back home, my phone hasn’t stopped ringing with people wishing me well and people have been stopping me in the street and saying ‘well done’.

“I am going to take a two week break now and then get ready for the Commonwealth Games.”

Paddy first stepped into a boxing ring around 12 years ago when he joined his uncle’s club East Coast, in the fishing village of Ardglass.

When the club closed, his father Patrick Sr brought him to the renowned Holy Family Boxing Club in Newington.

Paddy Sr said: “We always knew he had something special.

“It was seen from an early age that he would go places and there has always been this expectation on him.

“He has put everything into it. He has put his whole life on hold — family, school, friends and girlfriend. We have seen him five days in the last five weeks. That shows his commitment.”

Paddy represented Northern Ireland at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Australia and became the first Irish man to qualify for the World Championships in Chicago, missing out on a bronze medal after he was defeated in the quarter-finals.

However, he qualified for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and won Ireland’s first medal of the games, bringing back bronze to north Belfast.

SDLP councillor for North Belfast, Nichola Mallon is proposing a civic reception be held to mark his achievement and for “putting Belfast on the boxing world map”.

She said: “This is another remarkable victory by this young man from north Belfast.

“The dedication and discipline that he applies in pursuit of excellence in his sport, boxing, is a fine example to young people in Ardoyne and right across Ireland.”

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