| 15.1°C Belfast

I could see the heartache streaming from Christine's perfectly made-up eyes... I started to fill up myself


Gemma Garrett

Gemma Garrett

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Gemma Garrett and Carl Frampton

Gemma Garrett and Carl Frampton

Gemma Garrett with Christine Frampton

Gemma Garrett with Christine Frampton

Gemma and Barry

Gemma and Barry

Carl Frampton at the Nine Fine Irishmen bar.  Photo William Cherry/Presseye

Carl Frampton at the Nine Fine Irishmen bar. Photo William Cherry/Presseye

©William Cherry / Presseye


Gemma Garrett

In an exclusive report, make-up artist Gemma Garrett gives us her behind-the-scenes account of how she helped Carl's wife Christine get ready for the big fight night in Las Vegas - and the incredible bond that exists between the boxer and his fans.

I'm just about to get ready to leave Las Vegas. So much craziness packed into five days and it's safe to say I can't really keep up the pace anymore. I'm getting on a bit. Las Vegas 5, Gemma 0.

It was truly a breathtaking, goosebumps moment to land in Sin City and see 100ft billboard advertisements for the likes of Britney, Beyonce, the Kardashians - and our very own Carl Frampton. It's hard to fathom just how well he has done for himself and our wee country. Just a "wee" lad from Tigers Bay, Belfast, whose face is now on posters in this iconic entertainment destination.

Still, it's fair to say that he wasn't the only Norn Irish face out there - the strip was transformed into a sea of people clad in green and white. It was truly bizarre to witness - even more so when I bumped into people I haven't seen in years who live less than three miles away from me back in Belfast.

I was scheduled to do the make-up for a few ladies on fight night, including the woman of the moment, Christine Frampton. I have met her a few times, but just to say a quick hello. She was staying in the Sky Loft penthouses in the MGM Grand Las Vegas hotel, and I believe she had the services of a 24-hour butler if she wished.

However, as Carl needed to prep alone with his team, Christine and Danielle, who is girlfriend of boxer Josh Taylor, arranged to meet me at another beautiful suite.

I started to do the girls' make-up while some hairdressers also set to work. I asked Christine how she was feeling and she replied, "my nerves are wrecked". She seemed a little anxious and quiet.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

She had brought a bag with some beers in it but we couldn't find a bottle opener. Of course, given her status, she could have easily called the butler to help out but she "didn't want to trouble anyone".

The three of us debated if we should try to get the tops off with our teeth but I had visions of us being ringside with a few missing teeth which is not a great look, so in the end we decided against this course of action. However, I thought it all showed just how 'dead on' and down-to-earth Christine really is. Eventually we managed to open the beer on the door and I thought, 'You can take the girls outta Belfast ...'

Christine also praised Santa Cruz and his family saying: "They are a lovely family, he is respectful and shows great sportsmanship."

Once I had got the girls ready, I headed to my own room to get myself sorted out, then headed into the arena.

I was lucky to be sitting ringside at the fight. It was surreal to be that close and to hear the fans chanting: "There's only one Carl Frampton."

I found myself sitting beside the likes of Michael O'Neill, Gary Lightbody, David Haye and Floyd Mayweather and, of course, Christine and the Frampton family. At this point I had to pinch myself a little.

Boxing is very hard to watch, though I managed to do so through my fingers, covering my face for most of the fights. When the young lad (Dejan Zlaticanin) was knocked out by Mikey Garcia it was traumatic. It was directly in front of me. I couldn't look at his face and just stared at his feet. You could feel the whole arena fall silent as worry set in. Thank God he is alright. Josh Taylor had a good fight and won on points. Great result. I felt caught up in his victory because I had witnessed just how anxious Danielle was only a few hours earlier.

The whole arena erupted as soon as the opening chords of Freed From Desire (tune of the Green and White Army anthem, Will Grigg's on Fire) bellowed out of the speakers. I felt sick with nerves.

Well ... we all know what happened next. At the 11th round I had to leave. I couldn't bear to watch anymore and I knew from the faces around me he was behind on points.

I came back into the arena to live stream Carl's speech. I glanced over at Christine and she glanced back at me and I could see the heartache literally streaming from her perfectly made-up eyes. I felt myself fill up.

After the fight, Christine and Carl went to bed. The fans, however, sang into the small hours as if we had been victorious. I texted her to say how proud we all were of the pair of them and also sent her some other encouraging words.

The next day, Sunday, we were all invited to an Irish pub, Nine Fine Irishmen, where Carl was saying a few words to the fans. I spoke with Barry (McGuigan), who just months before had invited me and my dad to 'A Night With Frampton'.

I could see he was broken by the defeat but still trying to be upbeat for the fans. He said: "Listen, the decider will happen and we will end this."

I felt a lump in my throat when I got to Carl. He said: "I'm so devastated for the fans... We will get him next time."

I couldn't help but note how he said "we" as if we were all in this together. Just one big team. He had also provided a free bar for the fans, who sang their hearts out again as Carl and Barry took the time to personally thank as many as they possibly could. Then Carl took the microphone and told the assembled throng: "You are the best fans in the world."

Looking back on such an extraordinary 48 hours, what strikes me most is the character of the people at the centre of the action. Barry and Carl have each separately, and together, achieved so much, and many others in that position would be arrogant, aloof or full of themselves. Yet both, and Christine too, are genuinely humble and nice people.

As for the fans? What can I say. The only fights I saw during the whole weekend were the ones in the ring. The fans were united, some with Ulster flags and some with Irish flags. I think that's when it struck me that Carl Frampton is much more than a world class boxer - he is also an ambassador for our country. Hold your head high Carl and, yes, we will get him next time.

Top Videos