Thursday, April 02, 2009

Rogan returns to his Roots

Commonwealth heavyweight champion Martin Rogan is aiming to kick start a renaissance in boxing in Northern Ireland - among young and old alike. The 37-year-old makes the first defence of his title at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, on May 15 against Sam Sexton. It will be his first fight in his native Ulster since back-to-back wins over Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton. That latter victory has been hailed as one of the best heavyweight fights for years. And following his thrilling stoppage defeat of Skelton, Rogan says he has been overwhelmed by the response in Northern Ireland. "The phone hasn't stopped ringing," said Rogan. "And it's not just the press, because I've been asked to go here, there and everywhere - and I'm loving it. "It's fantastic that I've been able to put a smile on people's faces. "In fact, I've even calls from former fighters over here saying that because of me they have gone back to the gym and are taking up the sport again. "And there's even been one or two old folk waving their walking sticks at me saying they can't wait to see me fight on May 15." But it is with the school-age community that Rogan is proving the biggest hit. "I've been going to the schools in Belfast non stop," he said. "I've been taking my belt in to show the kids and their response has been brilliant. "Yesterday I did a talk on bullying, today it's an anti drugs one, tomorrow I'm sure it will be something different again.
"I'm in a very privileged position because I'm able to make a difference and put something back into the community. "And if I can inspire a new generation of champions then all the better, but just getting the kids fit and getting a long a bit better is enough for me."

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