Feature | Highlight 4 | Issue | Premium | Jul 30 2019

Michael Conlan: ‘People think this is just a sport. But it’s not just a sport. It’s life or death’

Michael Conlan considers the dangers boxers face. He speaks to Elliot Worsell
Michael Conlan
Action Images/Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

BEFORE throwing his first punch of the day, Michael Conlan needed to talk about it. He needed to talk about how two fists – tools of his trade, tools he would soon wrap and throw – led to the death of a 28-year-old Russian with whom he once shared a fight card, a profession and a dream. “I knew that guy,” Conlan said, shaking his head. “We boxed on the same show. He was a great guy.”

The morning after Maxim Dadashev passed away from injuries sustained in a fight against Subriel Matias, Conlan was back in the boxing gym, his home away from home. Around him were Harlem Eubank and Shannon Courtenay, fellow boxers equally shaken by the news but willing to let Conlan, the gym’s senior statesman, make sense of it all on their behalf before apologising on boxing’s behalf.

Conlan’s fists didn’t kill a man, no, but still he uses them, these fists, to make a living. They would that Wednesday be used to hit bags and pads, while in 10 days’ time they would be used to damage Diego Alberto Ruiz, his next opponent.


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