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Carl Frampton: My mate Paddy Barnes can be inspiration to next generation

Paddy Barnes clowning around at Windsor Park with Carl Frampton and Tyson Fury
Paddy Barnes clowning around at Windsor Park with Carl Frampton and Tyson Fury

By Carl Frampton

Paddy Barnes has called time on what has been an incredible career and his legacy will live on for as long as there is boxing on this island.

To be a three-time Olympian with two bronze medals is an incredible feat and then you add in two Commonwealth Games gold medals as well as European gold and silver medals. It's an incredible record. The professional game didn't work out as well as he would have wanted but he still fought for the WBC world flyweight title in only his sixth fight.

Paddy dared to be great as he did throughout his whole career and for that he deserves respect. Maybe he could have turned pro a bit earlier but then he wouldn't have been a three-time Olympian.

He has now got a job with SportNI and what an inspiration he will be for every young boxer coming through the ranks. Credit to SportNI for keeping him in the sport because too many of our great boxers have been forgotten about after they have retired.

He obviously has a wealth of experience to draw upon and part of that is coming through a series of defeats at the start of his career. He lost around about seven straight bouts but didn't give up. He showed what can happen with true determination. Not many would have stayed in a sport after such a tough beginning but that shows the character of Paddy.

He loved boxing and he wanted to represent his country at the Olympics and he did it because he kept going and he kept developing as a boxer. So, he can relate to every kid trying to make it in the sport they love but maybe things are not going the way they want - he can inspire them to keep going and see where it leads.

We had our own battles in the early days of our amateur careers, boxing four times.

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He beat me in the Northern Ireland Boys Clubs fair and square but one of our fights that stands out was when we boxed in the Balmoral Hotel in the Co Antrim Juvenile championships when Paddy actually pushed me out of the ring.

But I then got back in and filled him in!

It was because of the rivalry that we had that we didn't really like each other but then as I went up a couple of divisions we started to become good friends and now we're best mates. He knows that if he ever needs anything I'm there for him.

He has had some great nights over the years and it is hard to pick out what is his greatest achievement but I would say that his European gold medal success in 2010.

That may sound strange but often it can be harder to win a European medal than an Olympic medal because boxing in Europe is so strong so you are fighting one world class boxer after another.

At the Olympics you could, for example, meet an Australian who is nowhere near that level.

Overall, his medal tally is amazing over such an extended period of time. Now he can chill out with his family and enjoy his retirement.

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