Published 29/01/2012 | 05:00
Micheal Martin's father was also well-known for his sporting achievements, says Ralph Riegel
PADDY 'The Champ' Martin, who died last Sunday aged 88, was a link to Ireland's sporting golden era.
The father of Fianna Fail leader, Micheal Martin, was hailed as a man who loved his native city and his country -- and who used the setbacks of his own young life as the inspiration to become a devoted father, sportsman and trade union member.
His latter years were saddened by the loss of his wife Lana Martin, the death of two of his grandchildren and a long illness.
The retired CIE worker was known throughout Cork as 'The Champ' because of his boxing exploits in the Forties and Fifties. Many considered him one of Ireland's unluckiest boxers and fully deserving of a European title that narrowly eluded him.
Paddy Martin boxed internationally for Ireland and, in over 100 bouts, was never knocked out. He was the victim of so many split decisions and disputed losses that it merely added to his local fame.
Mr Martin -- a lifelong St Nick's supporter -- was also a renowned GAA player and a friend of both Jack Lynch and Christy Ring.
Micheal Martin told mourners at the Church of Christ the King in Turner's Cross, Cork, that the first time he ever saw his father cry was when he heard news of Christy Ring's untimely death in 1979.
Ultimately, Paddy Martin lived to see two of his sons -- Micheal and Sean -- become Lord Mayors of Cork.
He was intensely proud of Micheal's achievement on being elected a TD, and then serving in four major cabinet posts, before becoming party leader last year.
His son admitted that, when he launched his own political career in 1985, his father's sporting legacy was a crucial, if unexpected, asset: "When I knocked on doors, armed with party literature, they simply looked at me and said: 'Are you Champ's son?' That's how I got started," he said.
Mr Martin said that his father was devoted to his family throughout his life -- in part due to the fact that he lost both his own parents when he was just 12.
"He loved life and lived it to the full. His boxing motto applied to all aspects of his life -- keep on fighting until you hear that bell," he added.