Michael Conlan: Belfast boxer apologises for playing 'pro-IRA' ringwalk song at New York fight

Michael Conlan: Belfast boxer apologises for playing 'pro-IRA' ringwalk song at New York fight

BELFAST boxer Michael Conlan has apologised for using a song containing a pro-IRA lyric as his ringwalk music before a bout in New York.

Conlan, 27, sparked fury from unionists back on St Patrick's Day when he played Celtic Symphony by The Wolfe Tones at Madison Square Garden before claiming a routine points win over Mexican fighter Ruben Garcia Hernandez.

The tune was a controversial choice thanks to, in no small part, the presence of the lyric "Ooh Ahh Up The Ra" – which a number of spectators sang along to as the Irish featherweight made his way up to the ring.

In an apology today, Conlan admitted he had made a "misjudgement" and said he would not be playing the music again.

The London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist told BBC News: "I misjudged the reaction and to the people I offended I definitely apologise".

Conlan added that he did not hear the chants from fans but felt his performance was "overshadowed" by the music.

"I wasn't listening to what anyone was singing – I was focused on my opponent and doing my job," he said.

"It was a misjudgement 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.

"To those people [who were offended] I meant no offence at all.

"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."

Several unionist politicians had reacted angrily after the song and chants sparked controversy on March 17.

Ulster Unionist Party MLA John Stewart accused Conlan of dragging himself and the sport "into the gutter".

DUP Belfast councillor Brian Kingston described the song choice as "disgraceful", claiming Conlan showed "no regard for the victims of IRA terrorism".