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Barnes fighting the lure of making history in Rio

By David Whelan

NORTH Belfast’s gold medal winning boxing ace Paddy Barnes has dropped his biggest hint yet that he may be about to hang up the gloves on his amateur career.

Just days after returning from winning gold at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Barnes admitted that he would “be away in the morning” if a professional deal could be struck but admitted that talks were at an early stage.

“I’m meeting people from the AIBA (Amateur International Boxing Association) and there’s been a few promoters talking to me but we will see where the future lies in the next few weeks,” he said.

The switch would mean that the Cliftonville man would be ruled out of the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio, where he would have the chance to make history by becoming the first ever boxer to win medals in separate games. Something he admits would be a fantastic achievement.

“Given what I have already achieved it would make sense to make the step up to professional but I know how great boxing in Rio would be too,” he said.

“Nothing has been set in stone.”

The 27-year-old, who trains out of the Holy Family gym in the New Lodge, was speaking to the North Belfast News shortly after being reunited with his partner Mari and young daughter Eireann and said that his success still hadn’t registered.

“It feels great but it really hasn’t sunk in,” he said.

“People ask you how it feels but I can’t even say how it feels because I’ll probably not realise what I’ve done until I retire.

“The team landed and went up to Queen’s Pavilion but I was knackered and just wanted to get home to see my family.”

Paddy admitted that he was disappointed not to see his young club mate Michaela Walsh take gold in her category.

“I said before we went to the games that I expected Michaela to take gold, I knew that she had the ability to beat Olympic champion Nicola Adams,” he explained.

The 21-year-old reacted angrily to the judges’ split decision to award Adams the gold medal, meaning she only picked up silver in her first competitive Games.

“I can only encourage the reaction Michaela had after her fight, “said Paddy.

“I don’t agree with sitting back and taking second place and Michaela clearly felt that she won the fight.”

Barnes’s father Paddy senior said that it made him proud to see Michaela follow in his son’s footsteps.

“There is not a harder worker in boxing than Paddy Barnes,” he said.

“Patrick is outstanding at learning, he wants to learn, he wants to win, there has never been a harder worker and young Michaela Walsh is following in his footsteps.

“She is the female Paddy Barnes. She watches Paddy, learns from him, spars with him and she trains like him. She’s only a young kid with a lot to learn, that’s what champions do.

“Paddy is still learning, the day you stop learning is the day you go backwards.”

Paddy senior said that the Games had been a great experience for the whole family and added that he stood by any decision his son made on his boxing future.

“His mum Ellen and I went over for the semi-final which he just cruised through in first gear and then we went to the finals and had a brilliant seat at ringside,” he said.

“I actually think the atmosphere was even better than the Olympics, the Scotchmen were mad just like ourselves and they love their blood and thunder.

“Seeing Patrick box in Rio would be special but at the end of the day it’s his decision, he now has a little daughter now and his life’s different.”


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