Belfast Telegraph

Carl Frampton: Victory over Kiko Martinez in Belfast was a win for all of Northern Ireland

Editor's Viewpoint

There have been many sporting triumphs in Belfast over the years, but none more so than that of the boxer Carl Frampton and his world championship victory at the Titanic slipways on Saturday night.

It was a well-deserved win over the brave title holder Kiko Martinez from Spain, and the news about the new champion from Northern Ireland will resonate around the world of sport and spread some good news internationally about this province.

This was not just an absorbing boxing match between two very good professionals. It was also a reminder how Northern Ireland can produce so many world champions.

They include Rinty Monaghan, who once worked in the shipyard, and also Barry McGuigan the manager of Carl Frampton whom he will help to guide to greater things, including many lucrative pay days.

Northern Ireland has produced other sporting champions including Dame Mary Peters and Rory McIlroy, but this weekend belonged to Carl Frampton who has moved up from modest beginnings in Tigers Bay to become a major international figure in his chosen field.

Boxing in many ways is a brutal sport, but it also has an innate sense of romanticism where brave men can enter a ring and with courage and immense skill transform their lives. Sadly, it is also often a rag-to-riches story with the inherent dangers of losing those riches, but Carl Frampton is a young man whose feet seem firmly planted on the ground.

This is partly because of his secure family life – and his mixed marriage with Christine is an example of how people can cross barriers and become a unifying symbol in a divided province.

Much credit is due not only to Carl Frampton but also to those backers, including Belfast City Council and the Stormont Executive, who helped make such an occasion possible.

There was also much added symbolism in the reality of 16,000 people from both the main communities turning out on a cool autumn evening to cheer on one of Northern Ireland's own, where fans from all backgrounds were willing their local hero to fulfil his dream of becoming a world champion.

Northern Ireland has had so many bad headlines over the years that it is easy to forget the good news.

In recent times, there has been much to savour and to celebrate, including this year's Giro D'Italia, which, despite the poor weather, brought a positive image of Northern Ireland to many parts of the world.

Sometimes, the good headlines are rather like the old story about buses – you wait for a long time for one to come, then several appear together.

So it has been with Northern Ireland sport this weekend.

Carl Frampton won a world title, the Ulster rugby team notched up a thrilling draw in a high-scoring opening game against the Scarlets in Wales, and the Northern Ireland soccer team won a famous – and rare – victory against Hungary away from home.

All these sporting achievements will be seen in perspective when the daily reality of another new week rolls in.

But there is something magic about sport which allows people from all backgrounds to dare to dream, and on occasions to savour remarkable achievements.

Carl Frampton, in particular, is a world- beater, and there is every reason to hope that he will continue to be a world-class ambassador for Northern Ireland.

This has indeed been a sporting weekend to remember.

Belfast Telegraph

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