Belfast Telegraph

Michael Conlan's promoter Bob Arum says he 'gets a kick' out of IRA songs at fights


Michael Conlan and his promoter Bob Arum
Michael Conlan and his promoter Bob Arum

A video has emerged of boxing promorter Bob Arum saying he “gets a kick” out of seeing Michael Conlan enter a stadium to IRA songs prior to his fights.

Arum, who handles Conlan’s fights, made the comments following the Belfast boxer’s decisive unanimous points victory over rival Vladimir Nikitin in New York on Saturday.

It comes just seven months after the Belfast featherweight apologised for walking out to a fight to a pro-IRA song on St Patrick’s Day in Madison Square Garden, which was widely condemned by politicians and victims of IRA violence for “glorifying terrorism”.

Conlan said they would not use the music again.

Speaking following Saturday night’s bout, Top Rank boss Bob Arum said he is planning for Conlan to fight again on St Patrick’s Day in Madison Square Garden next year.

“He’s going to do it in the theatre of Madison Square Garden and it’s during the week, St Patrick’s Day .. and the whole place will be green and we’ll maybe play maybe an IRA song to get everybody excited back in Ireland,” he said.

“Screw them... I just get a kick out of it, because [Michael Conlan] got criticised last time when he came out to an IRA song.”

Back in May, Conlan made his was to the ring to face Ruben Garcia Hernandez to The Wolfe Tones song Celtic Symphony, which contains the lyric "ooh ah up the Ra", leading to IRA chants from fans in the arena.

DUP leader Arlene Foster condemned the choice of music, referring to IRA murder victim Gillian Johnston (21), who was gunned down outside her parent's home in Leggs near Belleek on March 18, 1988.

"Those chanting 'ooh ah up the Ra' should take a moment and read about what IRA done on this day 31 years ago," she wrote on Twitter.

"Not actions worthy of glory. All terrorism was wrong and should be condemned - not glorified."

Michael Conlan later apologised to those offended by the song choice.

"It was a misjudgment by me and we'll not be using the music again. I've learned that I'm a role model, I'm under the microscope and things like this are not good for boxing," he told the BBC.

"I meant no offence at all. To the people who were offended - I definitely apologise."

He added: "Boxing is a sport that brings people together. I always want to be part of that and going forward I will be a part of that completely."

While some called for the Belfast fighter to be suspended, Bob Arum jumped to his defence.

"Mick certainly didn't want to offend anybody with the tune he used for his ringwalk in the Garden," he said.

"I know he has received criticism for what he came out to but I think people need to get over it because the Troubles are over.

"People need to move on but the songs and chants on both sides still stir the blood and the people in the arena went nuts when they heard it and I haven't seen enthusiasm like that for a long time."

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