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London 2012: Introducing... Paddy Barnes

The 2008 bronze medallist is another big hope for Ireland this time around. Just don’t mention Turkey or the world rankings.

Event: Boxing.

Who is he? Hailing from Belfast, Barnes is going to his second Olympic Games having coming back from Beijing with the bronze in 2008. The 25-year-old boxes in the light-flyweight division – and has experience of winning gold at both the 2010 European Amateur Championships and the Commonwealth Games that same year.

Barnes fights for the Holy Family ABC in his home city and made his name by taking successive Ulster titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007, and national titles in 2007 and 2008.

Road to London: Not smooth.

While his participation was assured at the Olympic qualifiers in Trabzon, Turkey back in April, Barnes was angered when a bizarre sequence of scoring saw his semi-final opponent Ferhat Pehlivan take a 21-14 victory.

He was less than diplomatic afterwards, mouthing obscenities.

“I wasn’t happy at all with the decision. I hammered him like. It wasn’t even as if it was close,” he said. “I hammered him. His ma and da knew I won that fight so they did. The whole crowd knew I won it. What do you do?”

To add insult to insult, Barnes reacted angrily when he found out that he had fallen from sixth in the world rankings in June to outside the top 33.

“It’s a joke, if you ask me, because there have been no tournaments this year that you can get ranked from,” said Barnes.

“After Trabzon (Olympic qualifying tournament) I actually moved up one place, but now I’ve gone from sixth to not being ranked at all in the World. There are other people in the top 10 who have moved up, so how do you explain that? I tweeted the
World Boxing organisation (AIBA), but who am I? I’m nobody to them. They’ll just brush me to the side and tell me to shut-up.”

What he says about himself: “Every fight, no matter who I’m fighting, I still get really, really nervous. I walk into the ring and think, ‘What am I doing here? It’s just something you have to get over. Once that bell goes and you’re in the ring, they all sort of fade away.

“I know all the boys get nervous, and I pretend I’m not, but really I am. I never show it to my opponents, I try to intimidate them.

“Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, it depends on who I’m fighting.”

Medal chances: Despite the problems over his world ranking, Barnes fully expects to be seeded when it comes to London 2012. However, the AIBA makes FIFA look like an astute bunch of capable thinkers, so assessing Barnes’ chances will only be made easier after the draw for the Games is made on July 27th in London’s ExCel Arena, and the seedings are explained.

That being said, he has done it before so can easily do it again, especially given his youth.

On the Twitter: He can be found @paddyb_ireland, and his blurb? Olympic bronze medallist, European and Commonwealth champion, my posts are NOT my own but that of an out of control Ipad so I take NO responsibility for them :)

If you meet him in a bar, ask him… about the time he met a Hollywood great.

If he were a YouTube video he would be?

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