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Father's Day style is box fresh for Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon

New dads Michael Conlon and Paddy Barnes punch above their weight in the fashion stakes, says Kerry McKittrick

Boxing heroes Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon are more at home in training gear, working up a sweat in the ring than they are changing dirty nappies and warming bottles.

However, both of the Commonwealth gold-medal winning champions have recently been revealing their softer sides, opening up about their respective daughters and their new roles as fathers.

Paddy (28), and his partner Mari, welcomed Eireann into the world just over a year ago, while Michael became a father for the first time when his partner Shauna gave birth to little Luisne just three months ago.

The two spoke about parenthood on a shoot with retail centre The OUTLET ahead of Father's Day on Sunday - which both men are now looking forward to celebrating with their daughters.

The two Belfast boxers talk to us about their new roles and what Father's Day means to them.

'I cried when Luisne was born'

Michael Conlon (23) is a Commonwealth gold medal-winning boxer who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics in London. He lives in Belfast with his partner Shauna Olali and their 12-week-old daughter Luisne. He says:

Being a dad is not as hard as I thought it would be. People kept making a big deal out of it and telling me how hard it would be to get up in the middle of the night for feeds.

I might have to get up at all hours of the night, but once I go in and get Luisne and she sees me and starts to smile instead of crying, it's all worth it. I also like the fact that if I'm doing a night feed, it's time the two of us can spend together on our own. It's fantastic that Luisne gets put in my arms at night time and falls asleep straight away. It's amazing to have someone who loves you unconditionally and to love them back unconditionally. I love my partner, Shauna, but there isn't a blood bond between us. Since we've had the baby, the bond between us has been that much stronger, but the love we both feel for Luisne is unbelievable, it's very hard to describe. The best way for me to explain it is that I would die for her in a minute.

We were very lucky in that Shauna had a straightforward pregnancy and delivery, so there was no drama when Luisne was born. Some people say it's awful watching your child being born, but I thought it was a beautiful thing. I always said I wouldn't cry when the baby was born, but I had tears of joy in my eyes.

The whole thing was an amazing experience and I would do it again tomorrow. Shauna was fantastic throughout. I would have another baby straight away, but I think with the Olympics in 2016 coming up, I need to be smart and get my sleep while I can.

I don't know what to expect on my first Father's Day - hopefully there will be a few presents. I'll spend time with my family and then probably go and see my dad.

I think my relationship with my dad has changed already - he keeps telling me to stop throwing tantrums. I'm getting told to grow up a lot.

Growing up with my dad was fantastic, he did everything he could for us, and I want to be like that with my children."

'I just can't imagine what life would be like without Eireann'

Paddy Barnes MBE (28) is a boxer with two gold Commonwealth medals and two bronze Olympic medals under his belt. He lives in Belfast with his partner Mari Burns and their daughter Eireann (13 months). He says:

Just before Eireann was born, I was in Dublin on a course and Mari phoned me to tell me her contractions had started. I rushed back but we had to wait for hours until it was time to go to the hospital. We went in at 6am and Eireann was born at 10am on the button.

I was taken aback when I first saw her. It was lots of emotions all rolled into one. I was absolutely delighted.

When Eireann was very small I was away training a lot - Mari took over the brunt of the work. When I came back, I don't think the wee one knew who I was.

I'm coming up to my second Father's Day now and Eireann isn't so much walking now, as running around the place. I really need to keep my eye on her at all times, as I never know what she'll be up to.

Becoming a dad is brilliant - I just can't remember a time when Eireann wasn't around and I can't imagine what life would be like without her. Just watching her grow up is fascinating, seeing her starting to walk and then crawl. I'm glad she's growing up, there's finally someone here I can have a play with and have a little tea party with.

Last year's Father's Day I was training because I had the Commonwealth Games coming up so I didn't get to enjoy it very much. This year Mari and Eireann are going to treat me to lunch.

I'm close to my dad, he's involved in the boxing gym and he started me boxing. On Father's Day he has a tradition that he goes and plays golf with all of his friends wearing karate suits. I think it came from when they all trained in martial arts, but they've all given it up now so they just wear the suits for a laugh."

  • Our 2014 Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards Special Recognition and Team of the Year award winners Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan took time out of their busy schedules to showcase summer casual wear and suits from Timberland, The Designer Studio and Paul Costelloe stores at The OUTLET, Banbridge. The champion boxers who achieved gold medals at last year’s Glasgow based Commonwealth games and bronze at London 2012 have already qualified for Rio in 2016. All outfits courtesy of The OUTLET, Banbridge - the home of smarter shopping. For more information check out

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