Michael Conlan: Belfast fighter apologises over pro-IRA song at New York fight

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'It's not good for boxing' - Conlan reflects on ring entrance song controversy

Belfast boxer Michael Conlan has apologised to "the people he offended" by a ring entrance song which contained lyrics supporting the IRA.

He was criticised after the Wolfe Tones' Celtic Symphony, which includes the line "Up the Ra", was played before his St Patrick's Day bout in New York.

"I misjudged the reaction and to the people I offended I definitely apologise," said the featherweight.

Conlan, 27, added that he will not use the music again.

A number of spectators sang the "Up the Ra" lyric when the song arrived at the chorus and before Conlan went on to maintain his unbeaten record by defeating Mexican Ruben Garcia Hernandez at Madison Square Garden.

Several unionist politicians reacted angrily after the music and chants sparked controversy.

"Disgraceful that he has no regard for the victims of IRA terrorism," said DUP Belfast councillor Brian Kingston.

Michael Conlan makes his entrance to the Madison Square Garden ring on St Patrick's Day
Michael Conlan makes his entrance to the Madison Square Garden ring on St Patrick's Day

"Very disappointing that Michael Conlan does not follow the lead of many previous boxing and sporting heroes so that people can support him across the divide."

Conlan said he did not hear the chants from fans but admitted his performance was "overshadowed" by the music.

"I wasn't listening to what anyone was singing - I was focused on my opponent and doing my job," said the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist.

"It was a misjudgement by me and we'll not be using the music again. I've learned that I'm a role model, I'm under the microscope and things like this are not good for boxing.

"To those people [who were offended] I meant no offence at all.

"Boxing is a sport that brings people together. I always want to be part of that and going forward I will be a part of that completely."