Belfast Telegraph

Why the Framptons aren't quitting Northern Ireland

They've the world at their feet, but boxer Carl and wife-to-be will stay here

BY UNA BRANKIN

Boxing hero Carl Frampton and his wife-to-be Christine Dorrian are soon to be on the move – but homesickness has put an end to their plans to live in England.

Currently living in Lisburn with their two-and-a-half year-old daughter Carla, the couple recently went house-hunting in London and had seriously considered moving there next year.

"I'm a real home-bird and when we went to look at houses in London and just outside it I got a bit scared," said glamorous Christine (25).

"I like to have friends and family around me and I thought I'd be lonely over there, especially with Carl travelling so much.

"We live in this wee starter home in Lisburn, our first house, but we're definitely looking for somewhere with a bit more space for Carla and our five-year-old Bichon dog Manny to run about in. We'd like to get a nice place in the country with a good garden. Somewhere like Crawfordsburn would be nice."

The Old Inn in Crawfordsburn is the venue for the couple's lavish wedding on Sunday. Some 120 have been invited for dinner, with a further 150 coming to the evening celebrations. Despite their different backgrounds – Carl's in the loyalist Tigers Bay and Christine's in the largely republican Poleglass – they don't expect any tension among the revellers on the big day.

Although Carl has spoken of facing some disapproval of their relationship, Christine has had no such ill-feeling from her community.

"The only time we got any real flak was at a boxing match when there was some sectarian chanting directed at us, which wasn't nice and I couldn't repeat," said the University of Ulster graduate. "I think they'd had a few too many drinks on board.

"People wouldn't really say it to your face, but I know my friends and family have no problem with it. No one's bothered about it at all."

The couple's 11-day honeymoon in Thailand will be the first time Christine has left daughter Carla behind – and it's the one aspect of the holiday she's not looking forward to.

"I just have to push it to the back of my mind – she'll be with my mum and my sister, who's a teacher, and she'll be fine. She's at the age now that she asks where her daddy is when he's away, though. She cries and frets for him and gets confused when he comes home at weekends and goes away again.

"She's the spitting image of him, too; I don't get a look in at all. It's really hard and it's not getting any easier, but it's a sacrifice you have to make. We hope to travel around with Carl for a while before Carla starts nursery school. I'd like to have more kids but not at the minute, with him away so much."

It has been six-and-half-years since Carl plucked up the courage to text Christine to ask her out, a full year after they met at Kelly's nightclub in Portrush, on one of the rare occasions she attended the club.

She had her hen night in Dublin and Slane during the summer when she went to the "brilliant" Eminem gig with a group of friends, but Carl hasn't got round to going paintballing for his planned stag.

"He's been so busy he says he'll probably just go for a few pints with his mates this week, but he doesn't drink that much and he doesn't want to be fragile for the wedding anyway," said Christine.

"It's true he was so nervous on our first date that he got drunk and forgot to pay for my food; then we went to a pub and he didn't buy me a drink all night! But we got over that all right."

Carl has only a few bruises above his eye to heal from his victory on Saturday over Jeremy Parodi at the Odyssey in time for his wedding, where his daughter will act as flower girl.

Boxing fan Eamonn Holmes, who had a ringside seat on Saturday, has sent his best wishes for the big day, addressing Christine as 'Cous' on Twitter, which has led to the assumption they're related, but Christine confirmed there are no blood ties.

"My daddy once told me he was Eamonn's cousin for a wind-up and when Carl met him at the Irish embassy in London he brought it up with him, and it has been a joke between us ever since. Eamonn has a good sense of humour."

Christine graduated with a degree in criminology and criminal justice four years ago and did voluntary work with the Policing Board before Carla was born.

She also worked temporarily in the New Look fashion shop on the Boucher Road, but has found that she needs to stay at home to look after Carla for the time being.

An untypically laid-back bride-to-be, she admits that Carl has done most of the wedding organising.

"He's a groomzilla," she laughed. "He had time on his hands between training in London to sort out things.

"I've been really flippant and easy-going about it but when it comes to the crunch I'll probably freak out.

"I'm really lucky Carl has it all sorted."

Christine admits watching the action behind her fingers when the going gets tough and hates seeing her man getting hurt, but she enjoys the company of manager Barry McGuigan's wife Sandra and their actress daughter Nika at the boxing matches.

She said: "Sandra McGuigan is absolutely brilliant. I couldn't ask for a better adviser and friend. There are so many similarities between us, it's weird. The age she and Barry met is the same, and the religion thing, and how they got married. Nika's lovely, too.

"We always have a good time at the fights, even if I can't look half the time."

So with Carl and Christine poised to be Northern Ireland's answer to Posh and Becks, can we expect a new tattoo with Christine's name to be emblazoned across the European champion's hand?

"Oh no – I like Carl's tattoos; they're tasteful, but I wouldn't like him to get any more. I've a couple myself – not matching – and that's more than enough."

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