Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Boxing

Carl Frampton's ability to unite shouldn't be underestimated

By Ruth Gorman

With all the turmoil going on back home as an election looms, I have to say it's refreshing to be out of the country.

Looking out of my hotel room window, I can see the Trump building towering over the Vegas Strip which reminds me America has controversy of its own, but getting away from political conversations at home has been a welcome break.

When it comes to Carl Frampton, he breaks down political divides just like his manager Barry McGuigan in his 1980s heyday when he wore the dove of peace on his boxing shorts and carried a UN flag into the ring to symbolise unity in what were dark days.

We all know the story of Carl's mixed religion marriage to Christine, but his ability to relate to fans from all walks of life should not be underestimated.

Filming at the public workout in the MGM Grand, I came across very passionate Frampton fans; nothing out of the ordinary there. But what you don't see every day are Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland football jerseys side by side.

Actually, I did see it at the Euros in France last summer. After Northern Ireland's win over Ukraine in Lyon, we were filming down at the very front of the seated area and I thought it strange to see a fan in a Republic shirt jumping up and down in the crowd; after enquiring, I discovered he had swapped his Northern Ireland top while out on the tiles with southern supporters!

Back to the MGM and the two boys in different shades of green told me that they have followed Carl's career from day one and what they admire about him most is that "he stands for everyone, he's just one of us".

Having had the privilege of charting his career so far, I can see that this is just who Frampton is. He doesn't try to be a role model, a cross community hero, a stand out voice in a divided country. He always has been and continues to just be himself, and that's what makes him special. Just like the food he's been eating in the build-up, he is organic not processed.

Frampton remains as humble as ever and is overwhelmed by the support.

He knows Las Vegas is a long way from home but still the fans have travelled in their thousands to cheer him on in the famous MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Despite time consuming media obligations all week, Frampton has stopped with each fan who has requested a selfie or autograph.

It's great to see him on the biggest stage of all. The MGM Grand is the Mecca of boxing. His face is everywhere, his name is in lights and he even got the special treatment of being upgraded from a suite to what can only be described as a mini-mansion within a hotel which has its own butler!

It's a nice experience for him during the most pressured week of his career to date, especially when he thinks back to the Travel Lodges and B&Bs he has stayed in through the years. In Frampton fashion, though, he told me: "I could never get used to this, I can't wait to get home to see my kids."

He may have hit the big time but Frampton will never be too big for the small island he comes from.

Ruth Gorman is UTV Sport Correspondent reporting daily and evenings from Las Vegas

Belfast Telegraph

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph