Rogie and Sinclair in peace mission
Published 08/05/2009 | 00:00
They're used to all-out combat but Martin Rogan and Neil Sinclair are lined up for a new, passive role in Israel.
Rogan and Sinclair, from each side of the divide in Northern Ireland, have forged a friendship through the Sweet Science and now they want to play their own part in trying to bring about a greater understanding between Arab and Jew in the Middle East.
Commonwealth heavyweight champion Rogan defends his belt at the Odyssey Arena next Friday night against Sam Sexton with Sinclair in the main supporting contest against Henry Coyle for the Irish light-middleweight title. Then the two will be looking ahead to their trip to Israel.
For Rogan and Sinclair it's a special opportunity and when the Belfast heavyweight was offered the chance he made sure Ulster's former British welterweight champion would be joining him on the trip.
Rogan said: "I thought Neil would be ideal. We're from different religious backgrounds and we get on great and that's the example we want to take to Israel.
"The problems over there are heartbreaking when you see what both the Jews and Arabs have to go through. And of course growing up through the Troubles I can relate to that.
"It's just people looking at the religion of the person and not able to see past that to the actual human being. It's the kind of hard-line attitude that has to go if you are to move forward and we can see that in our own country.
"There are still some who want to hold to the bitterness but it's time for everyone to move on and enjoy life. Boxing has always been great at crossing any divisions. There's never been a problem and Neil and I will go to the Holy Land and do our bit to try and help relations over there and we want to try and bring boxing shows to there and vice versa.
"I think that would be great for the kids. It would be inspirational and give them a real purpose.
"Sport does that; it gives kids on the street something to believe in and gives them discipline. It helped me a lot and I'm very thankful to my parents for encouraging me to get into sport."
Sinclair jumped at the chance to head to Israel and believes that boxing can be an example right across the world for divided communities.
“I think boxing in Northern Ireland has always been great for cross community work. I’ve always had friends on both sides of the divide and Martin’s the same and now we have the chance to hopefully go and show the kids in Israel that we’re all the same,” said Sinclair.
Rogan and Sinclair will head off on June 10 and both naturally hope it is on the back of two important victories at the Odyssey.
Rogan added: “I’ve trained very hard for this fight and I want to go to Israel as Commonwealth heavyweight champion and Neil wants to go as Irish light-middlweight champion. I’m delighted that Neil has this chance to be the main supporting fight because Irish fighters need these kind of opportunities.
“The whole show is shaping up very well and I think it’s going to be a great night for the fans. The atmosphere is going to be tremendous and I think it could be the start of something really great for the local fighters.”
One of those on the bill is Belfast super-featherweight Kevin O’Hara who faces Yorkshire’s John Baguley. Heavyweight Scott Belshaw meets Coventry’s Jason Callum.
Meanwhile, Sir Henry Cooper has accused David Haye of providing ammunition for the anti-boxing lobby with his controversial behaviour towards Wladimir Klitschko.
Haye has attended promotional events wearing a T-shirt that depicts him proudly holding aloft the decapitated heads of Wladimir and his elder brother Vitali.
"I don't want to see David walking around with a T-shirt of other fighters' heads and all the cobblers we've seen in the build-up," said Sir Henry.
"The sport has already got enough opposition in the anti-boxing lobby as it is without giving them anything else.
"Prove how good you are in the ring by stopping Klitschko in one or two rounds.”