A BELFAST boxer has come in for serious criticism from politicians after using a song containing a pro-IRA lyric as his ring walk music.
Michael Conlan claimed a routine points win over Ruben Garcia Hernandez at the Madison Square Garden Theater in New York on St Patrick’s Day.
It was a victory that extended Conlan’s unbeaten professional record to 11 wins, six by knockout and five by decision.
However, in the aftermath of the victory, it was Conlan’s music tastes rather than his fighting skills that proved to be the source of much discussion.
It came after the 27-year-old opted to walk out to the ring with the Wolfe Tones’ song Celtic Symphony as a musical accompaniment.
The song was a controversial choice thanks, in no small part, to the presence of the lyric “Ooh Ahh Up The Ra” which is widely viewed as pro-IRA.
As he made his way up to the ring, several spectators were heard to sing along with the lyric.
Conlan’s music choice proved contentious to say the least and prompted a backlash of sorts among unionist politicians online.
Ulster Unionist Party MLA John Stewart posted a video of the ring walk on Facebook along with the caption:
“The sport of boxing has done so much to break down barriers, cross the divide and unite people from all backgrounds in Northern Ireland.
“It’s deeply regrettable that Michael Conlan[sic] doesn’t respect or understand this.
"It’s time someone told him that walking out to ‘Oh Ahh Up the RA’ is dragging him and the sport into the gutter.”
Very disappointing that Michael Conlon does not follow the lead of many previous boxing and sporting heroes so that people can support him across the divide. Disgraceful that he has no regard for the victims of IRA terrorism. https://t.co/Conh3GBvLY
— Brian Kingston (@BrianKingston) March 18, 2019
DUP Belfast councillor Brian Kingston echoed those sentiments on Twitter: “Very disappointing that Michael Conlan does not follow the lead of many previous boxing and sporting heroes so that people can support him across the divide.
"Disgraceful that he has no regard for the victims of IRA terrorism."
The Wolfe Tones have written several songs appearing to praise the IRA.