Belfast Telegraph

Carl Frampton: Love is the drug that all bikers and boxers can't be denied

By Carl Frampton

The North West 200 suffered another tragedy with the death of Malachi Mitchell-Thomas and I suppose it was expected that the whole issue of whether road racing should continue would come up.

The danger involved in road racing is there for everyone to see and the amount of tragedies and those who have suffered injuries in recent years has hit the sport hard.

I’m not a massive petrolhead and looking from the outside it has always been hard for me to get my head around why they would put themselves in such danger but at the same time admiring what they do. My view on whether it should be banned or not would come down to the chat I had with Lee Johnston when he called into the gym ahead of the North West.

He described how someone had said to him how he was “nuts, selfish and a mad man” for wanting to do road racing which is probably the view a lot of people have about the bikes men.

Lee’s answer was to make it clear that he would admit to being selfish just like many, many top sportsmen but not that he was mad. He responded to the guy by telling him that he worked nine to five every day, waiting for the weekends to come and then spent Sundays dreading the start of the week, whereas he is able to do the thing that he loves and to travel the world.

He’s 27 and said that if died right now he would have had a lifetime of doing what he loved and enjoying experiences around the world that he couldn’t have done without road racing but that others could spend a lifetime doing something they actually don’t like at all.

So when you look at it like that, how can you really deny someone the chance to work at the thing they love?

I know not everyone can do the thing they want for a living, for others it’s a case of just not having enough determination or being prepared to make the sacrifices — everyone is different.

Like boxing, the danger is one of the big elements that attracts people to the sport — the fans come knowing the danger, there’s something inside that is attracted to that in the same way years ago people went to see the gladiators in the Coliseum.

The fans get a chance to get close to the danger without putting themselves in danger.

People don’t want to see me dancing around the ring just winning easily on points — they want to see blood and thunder for 12 rounds, they want to see you laying it on the line. That’s a desire that will not go away.

When talking to Lee he actually said to me he couldn’t understand how I could stand in the ring and face the fact that I was about to get punched in the head and I had a chuckle to myself because I was thinking ‘I couldn’t even get on the back of your bike and ride round, I’d be wetting myself’.

You’re never going to stop road racing just the way boxing will never be banned. All you can do is make it as safe as possible and with boxing in particular you need the right people around you.

If you want to be a professional footballer you need to be of a good standard but you can be a professional fighter if you can raise your hands. You don’t have to be British or Irish title class or anywhere near that.

That’s why you need good people around you, to tell you not to turn professional or if you are a pro, to guide you in the right way and make it clear the level you and compete at. If I can compare it to myself, I always thought I was a decent singer until recently when I listened to myself back and I hate to admit it but it wasn’t very good.

I love singing but I can’t delude myself by what I hear in my head when I sing — I know I need a few lessons.

There’s no room for delusion in a dangerous sport but at the same time you can’t deny someone the chance to compete in the sport they love.

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