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Cwmbran man takes former world boxing champion Robbie Regan to Belfast

A Cwmbran man took Robbie Regan on a trip to Belfast and stayed in George Best’s former childhood home and visited the gym where Carl Frampton boxed as an amateur.

Andrew Bowen, from Pontrhydyrun, is the former WBA world champion’s agent and has built up friendships with a number of George Best’s family in the city. Robbie once met the Manchester and Northern Ireland star so Andrew decided to take him on a trip to remember. Robbie, 54 and from Fleur-De-Lis near Blackwood, lost in a WBO flyweight title fight in 1995 but became the IBF Interim flyweight champion later that year and then the WBA bantamweight champion in 1996.

But he never got in the ring again following a fever and failed brain scan.

man stood by a bed
Robbie in George’s best bedroom at his childhood home (Photo Andrew Bowen)

George Best’s family home is in East Belfast’s Cregagh Estate and owned by the Eastside Partnership, a regeneration charity, and they offer visitor experiences and overnight stays for fans. Peter McCabe, from the charity, was a guide for the trip.

Andrew said: “Peter has become a fantastic friend to me, always running me around when I am in Belfast. This trip, he run us around again. This time it involved boxing as well as all things George Best. After eating an Ulster Fry breakfast we were taken to Stormont where the funeral for George was held. We tagged onto the tour at 10am. This was done in the hall where George’s funeral was held. This was followed by visiting The Senate Chamber where we were allowed to sit in the chairs where the politicians sit and listen to the guide talking.

man by mural of boxers
Robbie by the boxing mural on Ardoyne Avenue, north Belfast (Photo Andrew Bowen)

“Next stop was the childhood home of Rory Mcllroy. In the garden was a putting green from when Rory was a young lad. We then visited various murals and statues concerning boxing around different parts of Belfast. Robbie was now in his element and it was great to see the smiles and Robbie taking lots of photographs.”

Carl Frampton’s boxing gym

“We then visited the gym where Carl Frampton boxed as an amateur. The club and community hub there has just had a £700,000 refurbishment. This was special. I have never seen anything like it in my life and Robbie said the same too. It was absolutely amazing, two new boxing rings, new showers and toilets. All boxing items such as pads, gloves, punchbags and skipping ropes were in abundance and brand new.

three men with a photo inside a boxing gym
Inside Carl Frampton’s former amateur boxing gym (Photo Andrew Bowen)

“All the weights were there and brand new too. Lots of framed photos of boxers, advertising posters and tickets were all on the floor waiting to go on the walls. Robbie chatted with Carl Frampton’s team about boxing over the years and was so in his element, like a kid on Christmas Day. In the evening, a former boxer named Eamon McCauley turned up with a boxing historian named Barry Flynn. They chatted for hours about boxing and boxers. Eamon and Robbie discussed lots of the fights they had both had over the years. Once again big smiles of happiness from Robbie.”

While at George Best’s house, Robbie helped clean a brass plaque on the front wall.

Andrew said: “This plaque was erected when George was given The Freedom of the Borough of Castlereagh in 2002. The plaque was cleaned with brasso and the surrounding frame was varnished. Well done champ. I then took Robbie into Belfast to meet two of my friends, Jim and Donna, who took us for lunch.

man stood outside house
Robbie at George Best’s family home. The plaque is on the wall behind him (Photo Andrew Bowen)

Meeting George Best

“Robbie met George and had a drink with him many years ago. Robbie told us George was so humble, the perfect gentleman who wanted to hear all about Robbie and what he had achieved in boxing. He said so many sportsmen brag about themselves, George never did, he only wanted to talk about Robbie and what he had done in boxing and his life. He was amazed at how beautiful a person George was.

“Robbie loved his trip to Belfast big time. He stated how wonderful everyone was, how polite they were too asking him about his career. Robbie is definitely going to return with me in the near future.”

a woman stood with two men outside a coffee shop
Robbie with Donna and Jim (Photo Andrew Bowen)
man stood by image of george best
Robbie by an image of George Best (Photo Andrew Bowen)
man stood by photo of boxing match
Robbie by an iconic image of Barry McGuigan
(Photo Andrew Bowen)

Video of the George Best house from the charity that run it




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Cwmbran man takes former world boxing champion Robbie Regan to Belfast

man in a boxing ring leaning over ropes
Robbie in the ring at Midland Boxing Club, where Carl Frampton fought as an amateur (Photo Andrew Bowen)