Carl Frampton's gift of his Las Vegas medal to Devon (9) inspires young fan to follow in hero’s footsteps
A delighted Ballyclare family has thanked the "inspirational" Carl Frampton for giving away his latest boxing medal to their young son.
Frampton lost his WBA featherweight title in Las Vegas last weekend in his second clash with Mexican fighter Leo Santa Cruz.
After losing his belt, the runners-up medal became his token of the biggest fight of his career.
However, he showed grace in defeat afterwards with a surprise gift to nine-year-old Devon Gillespie.
The boxing mad youngster had been thrilled to travel to Las Vegas to see the big fight with his father Phil Gillespie (44). On Sunday as Frampton met with many of his fans who made the trip, Devon approached his favourite boxer for an autograph.
He said he couldn't believe what happened next.
"He came over and I asked him to sign the programme I got. He pulled me over to the side of the room where no one was and he gave me the medal," Devon told the Belfast Telegraph. "He just said, 'here keep this', it was amazing. That he would do that for one of his supporters, that was nice of him."
Devon's father Phil said he was completely taken aback by the kind gesture.
"I thought maybe he just asked him to only have a look at it. Before we left we went back to see Carl to say 'hard luck for yesterday'. I spoke to him about the medal and at that point Devon started to hand it back to him," he said.
"He laughed and said 'Devon, I've given you that medal and I really want you to have it'. He can't believe it, everything about his wee life revolves around boxing. What got me afterwards is that even though it wasn't a winning medal for Carl, he still had to go through his whole career to be in Las Vegas to fight Santa Cruz. I actually welled up.
"For a sportsman from this country to do that, I thought it was a fantastic gesture - especially for my young son who's so keen on boxing, it's a real inspiration for him. He'll never forget it."
Devon's mum Gail said the medal will now be proudly displayed at home.
"It's amazing, especially because Devon's so into his boxing," she said. "He's convinced he's going to be a boxer like Carl when he's older. We're getting the medal framed with the signed programme, you can't just keep something that good in a drawer."
Devon currently trains at the Midland Boxing Club in north Belfast, Frampton's local club as a young boy.
"I've been boxing about two years, there's something about it," said Devon, adding the inspiration from his sporting hero could "hopefully" see him become the next Carl Frampton.