Veteran boxing promoter Bob Arum apologises for 'IRA song' comment as Frampton and Conlan say 'no malice' intended
Boxing promoter Bob Arum has apologised after saying he “gets a kick” out of seeing Michael Conlan enter a stadium to IRA songs prior to his fights.
Arum, who handles Conlan’s fights, made the comments following the Belfast boxer’s decisive unanimous points victory over rival Vladimir Nikitin in New York on Saturday.
In a statement on Monday evening New York-born promoter Arum (88) said that he wanted to apologise for "any offence caused by my comments in an interview I gave on Saturday night".
Belfast boxer Carl Frampton, who is also promoted by Arum, said that while the comments "were offensive" he felt they had been made "out of a lack of knowledge regarding the complexities of our country. I do not believe they were malicious in nature".
"Boxing has always been a sport that has helped unite our people and divisive statements should be kept away from it," the Jackal said.
Conlan said that while he didn't think Mr Arum had intended any harm he welcomed the apology.
"I can understand how Bob’s comments have caused offence. However, I don’t think there was any malice behind what he said," the west Belfast fighter said.
Arum said that he had meant the comments as "a joke".
"What I said was spur-of-the-moment, ill-informed and ill-advised. I have no excuses but as anyone who knows me will tell you, there was nothing malicious whatsoever intended," he said.
"I am proud to represent great fighters such as Michael Conlan and Carl Frampton and I look forward to promoting more shows with our colleagues at MTK Global in the proud city of Belfast. Boxing is a sport of hope that brings people together and together, we will strive to facilitate that wherever and whenever possible."
An MTK Global spokesperson said they had a simple message on the matter.
"We are proud to be playing a role in further establishing boxing as a vehicle for breaking down barriers and divisions. We hope to continue our work with people from all-denominations, religions and ethnicities in building a positive future," the spokesperson said.
The group said they planned to stage further fights at Windsor Park and the Feile an Phobail next year after successful events featuring Frampton and Conlan in the past year.
The controversy comes just seven months after Colan apologised for walking out to a fight to a pro-IRA song on St Patrick’s Day in Madison Square Garden, which was widely condemned by politicians and victims of IRA violence for “glorifying terrorism”.
Conlan said they would not use the music again.
Speaking following Saturday night’s bout, Top Rank boss Bob Arum said he is planning for Conlan to fight again on St Patrick’s Day in Madison Square Garden next year.
“He’s going to do it in the theatre of Madison Square Garden and it’s during the week, St Patrick’s Day .. and the whole place will be green and we’ll maybe play maybe an IRA song to get everybody excited back in Ireland,” he said.
"Screw them... I just get a kick out of it, because [Michael Conlan] got criticised last time when he came out to an IRA song."
Back in May, Conlan made his was to the ring to face Ruben Garcia Hernandez to The Wolfe Tones song Celtic Symphony, which contains the lyric "ooh ah up the Ra", leading to IRA chants from fans in the arena.