Northern Ireland news

Michael Conlan apologises for pro-IRA lyric before St Patrick's Day bout

Michael Conlan makes his way to the ring at Madison Square Garden in New York
Michael McHugh, Press Association

Belfast featherweight boxer Michael Conlan has apologised for his ring walk song prior to a bout on St Patrick's Day in New York as it contained a pro-IRA lyric.

The London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist extended his unbeaten professional record to 11-0 with a routine points win over Ruben Garcia Hernandez at the Madison Square Garden Theatre.

Beforehand, the Wolfe Tones' Celtic Symphony - which contains the lyric Ooh Ahh Up The Ra - was played ahead of the fight, prompting a backlash from unionist politicians.

Conlon told the BBC: "I misjudged the reaction, and to the people I offended I definitely apologise."

The sportsman, 27, added that he will not use the music again.

Conlan has fought on St Patrick's Day in each of the last three years at the same venue.

A number of spectators sang the "Up the Ra" lyric during this year's contest on March 17.

The fighter said: "I wasn't listening to what anyone was singing - I was focused on my opponent and doing my job.

"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 said he meant no offence.

The sportsman added boxing was a sport which brought people together, he always wanted to be part of that and in future he would be completely part of that.

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