The lost champion of my generation: Conor McGregor

By Kevin Brannigan (Article first appeared in the July 2017 edition of Liberty)

Born in July 1988, Conor McGregor is four months my junior. We both come from a generation who were spoon fed the neo-liberal agenda that cash is king by the school system and mainstream culture from a young age.

We watched on unknowingly as Eddie Hobbs became famous, as attic conversions and garden decks consumed every housing estate and as our generation’s Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern told an Irish Congress of Trade Unions conference that he didn’t know how the cribbers and moaners didn’t commit suicide.

Having been told by society that the quickest route to respectability and cash was a Business Degree we flocked in our hundreds of thousands to universities, almost totally cleansed of any radical student strain. Campuses were for profit and the multi-nationals needed us quick.

Then the world collapsed and many or our generation either followed Bertie’s sage advice or ran for the exit.

The establishment didn’t care for us and when we protested over student fees they answered with batons. For Conor it was even worse finding himself left on the scrap heap of the dole queue.

Prospects were minimal. Conor McGregor owes Ireland nothing. But he does owe our generation something. He owes us a lot more than to be the vanguard for the wealth obsessed, brash, garish and downright boring creed of individualism that brought us to our knees in 2008.

McGregor is clever. No doubt. The nod to his time on the dole collecting his €188 weekly allowance by naming his recently purchased yacht the 188 was a not so subtle two fingers to the establishment.

His time on the dole hangs over all his actions. He’s never going back there and he’s angry with the establishment that he even was there. For lads today in a similar situation it’s easy to see the appeal.

Which is why it’s so disappointing that McGregor can’t take the lead of the man he’s so often incorrectly compared to, Muhammad Ali, and develop some principles and give a lead on what it’s like for young men in this country who are trapped in the system.

Instead, Conor has decided to use derogatory and ethnic slurs and references to trash talk almost every single opponent he’s fought since his star began to ascend. From asking Floyd Mayweather Jr to “dance for me boy” to describing Latino fighters as “cholos”, “cockroaches” or threatening “to turn their favelas into sweatshops”.

It’s hard to believe that someone such as Conor McGregor, who possesses such genuine sporting talent and a masterful ability to manipulate the world for his own ends, is incapable of grasping the nuances of the words and phrases he employs.

Propped up as a demi-lad McGregor has been given a free pass for years. You’re either a genuine sportsperson with genuine sporting ethics or you’re a ‘monkey’, to borrow a term from Conor, who employs performative negativity and hatred to sell the brand. But you can’t be both.

Conor McGregor will fight Floyd Mayweather Jr in the T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada on 26th August, 2017.

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