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Micheal Martin pays tribute to his 'Champ' father

THE first time Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin saw his father cry was after hearing about the death of his lifelong friend, Christy Ring.

The revelation came as Mr Martin paid an emotional funeral tribute to his father, who died last Sunday after a brave battle against a long illness.

Paddy Martin (88) -- known as 'Champ' throughout Cork because of his boxing exploits in the 1940s and 50s -- was also a renowned GAA player and friend of both Jack Lynch and Christy Ring.

Mr Martin boxed internationally for Ireland and, in more than 100 bouts, was never knocked out.

Micheal Martin told mourners at the Church of Christ the King in Turner's Cross, Cork, that his father -- a former CIE worker -- was "a patriot and a proud Irishman who loved his country and his native city".

He said that when he launched his own political career in 1985, his father's sporting legacy was an unexpected asset.

"When I knocked on people's doors, armed with party literature and policy proposals, they simply looked at me and said: 'Are you Champ's son?' That's how I got started."

He added that his father devoted himself to his family throughout his life -- in part due to the fact 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 said.

The Offertory gifts reflected Mr Martin's lifelong loves: his late wife Lana and family, boxing, west Cork holidays as well as Irish politics and current affairs.

The mourners were led yesterday by Mr Martin's children, Micheal, Sean, Padraig, Mairead and Eileen, his sister, and his grandchildren.

Two of Mr Martin's sons served as Lord Mayors of Cork -- Micheal and Sean.

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Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore represented the Government at yesterday's Requiem Mass while Taoiseach Enda Kenny was represented by his Aide de Camp Captain Michael Treacy, and President Michael D Higgins by his Aide de Camp, Captain Mark Larkin.

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