This cult of personality ignites Dublin’s youth as a symbol of hope while those of a certain vintage remain vocal in their distaste for his words and uneasy with the sport he represents.
Critical moments shaped his childhood, interests and mind to form a persona he labels ‘The Notorious’. But what made the man behind the manic eyes? And how much of it is real?
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Dublin’s River Liffey is tranquil when we visit three weeks before McGregor will earn a reported $100m (£77,500,000) in his boxing debut against the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr.
A few streets away, Aisling Daly – Ireland’s first MMA world champion – has just taken one of her clients as a personal trainer and sits in a gym in front of a white board, scrawled with the words ‘demand the impossible and you will receive the maximum’. It fits the topic of conversation – McGregor – who met Daly when both he and his world were changing.
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A house move from Crumlin to Lucan in his late teens forced McGregor to switch schools. He was dismayed and vividly recalls a feeling of “isolation”.
But already a skilled junior boxer, he met new classmate Tom Egan. Egan preached MMA and satisfied McGregor’s rabid interest in combat enough to prompt a change in focus. Both men would make it to the UFC through Dublin’s Straight Blast Gym.
Daly, now retired from UFC, recalls McGregor’s first SBG visit. Wishing to prove his worth, he “dropped” her with a body shot and did the same to Owen Roddy – the gym’s best fighter.