From Falls Road to Madison Square Garden: Boxer Michael Conlan

by Chris Murray on December 4, 2019
Michael Conlan. Photo by Jay Bulger.

Just a few months ago, I had the great pleasure of attending some boxing matches in West Belfast. The main event featured Michael “Mick” Conlan who is from West Belfast against Diego Alberto Ruiz. Michael won the fight, and it was a great celebration. Conlan won the bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics, which I attended and saw both him and Ireland’s Katie Taylor. Mick later went on to win the gold medal at the Boxing World Championships in Doha in 2015. He is one of Ireland’s greatest boxers.

Michael Conlan in training. Photo by Jay Bugler.

The match itself was at Falls Park in West Belfast on August 3rd where a boxing ring was constructed outdoors and several thousand people came for the match. It was an amazing crowd, with virtually everyone rooting for their hometown boy Michael Conlan. The spirit at the match was remarkable with the crowd singing in unison songs like “Sweet Caroline” and “Daydream Believer”. Washington artist Carlotta Hester was with me and we were knocked out by the unity and good fun that the crowd projected. 

VIP pass for the Conlan Ruiz fight in West Belfast.

December 14th Michael Conlan will be fighting in New York City at Madison Square Garden against Vladamir Nikitin. In the 2016 Rio Olympics, Michael was favorite for the gold medal before he lost a controversial decision against Nikitin. It is said the fight was fixed. Many view this December match as an opportunity for justice to be made. We are looking forward to attending that match. My friends Darragh Bambrick and Jay Bulger are making a documentary film about Michael Conlan. They are the ones who invited us up to Belfast for the fight, and they will be filming in New York and continuing their work on their Michael Conlan documentary. Jay Bulger is well known for his award-winning film, Beware of Mr. Baker, about the brilliant drummer Ginger Baker. Bulger is also known in boxing circles for his film CounterPunch

Govinda Gallery has had a rich history with boxing, having first exhibited Howard Bingham’s extraordinary photos of Muhammad Ali, along with two exhibitions of sports photography legend Neil Liefer’s boxing photographs. I also had the great pleasure of editing Knockout: The Art of Boxing (Insight Editions 2007) featuring Ken Regan’s boxing photographs. 

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