Boxing legend Carl Frampton says Klitschko brothers are doing the right thing defending their country
Frampton was launching Trócaire's Lent campaign at Midland Boxing Club in Tigers Bay
It's perhaps the last place you might expect a charity run by the Catholic church to launch their Lent campaign.
And yet, in the loyalist heartland of Tigers Bay in north Belfast this week, one passionate supporter of Trócaire, the iconic Irish charity, sits beside me on an old wooden pew in the famous Midlands Amateur Boxing Club right in the heart of the Bay.
In his natural habitat, with his father Craig by his side, this isn't Carl Frampton the two-weight world champion, but Carl the man who is determined to put his fame to good use for others.
This year's Lenten appeal is about helping people in Zimbabwe in particular - but in a fast-changing world, Carl's first thoughts this week are with the people of Ukraine.
He said: "I always feel like as a sportsperson I have a bit of a duty of care. Look at the likes of Marcus Rashford, helping less-well-off kids get free school meals. If you've been given a platform, you should try and use it in a positive way.
"I suppose when you go into these sports, you go into it for a different reason, you're not going into it to become a role model, but whether you like it or not, you do become one.
"You look at the Klitschko brothers and Vasiliy Lomachenko, boxers like myself, who are out in Ukraine standing on the front line. They're out there doing the right thing. I have so much respect in the world for that. I'm not big into politics but I respect that they are out there doing what they believe is right."
Having worked with Trócaire before as an ambassador, and having travelled to Kenya to see the work they do, Carl said: "It was a bit of a life-changing experience.
"I remember coming back - and this isn't my kids' fault - but you're putting food on the table and they're picking and choosing, and saying 'na, I don't want to eat that', and you see kids in Kenya who are getting nothing.
"I remember at one point we were in a slum; just horrible, raw sewage everywhere and terrible conditions, and then you still have gangs coming in and taking 'rent' off these people, it was horrible, but Trócaire are fighting to prevent that."
Speaking of being a Trócaire ambassador coming from Tigers Bay, Carl said his religious background didn't come into it.
He explained: "I don't really care [about religion] to be honest. Trócaire is a Catholic organisation run by the church. I didn't really look into it to be honest, all I know is they do good things. I know what they do. They help people in need.
"I'm not religious in the slightest. I don't pretend to be. All I want to do is help in whatever way I can."
Back to the war in Eastern Europe, Carl was keen to voice the plight of Russian mothers, who, like Ukrainian mothers, will also see their sons and daughters return from the dire conflict in plastic bags.
"It's sad for the Russian soldiers as well. I watched something where Russian soldiers gave themselves up because they didn't actually realise what they were doing.
"They thought they were on a training mission or something. They didn't realise they were going to have to hurt people. I don't know what propaganda is being published in Russia at the moment, but it's a sad situation nonetheless."
Trócaire has now been given a huge boost by receiving aid from UK Aid Match, meaning every penny donated by the public will be doubled by the UK government up to £2 million.
Carl said: "That UK Aid Match has got on board is fantastic for Trócaire. It doubles anything that comes in, and it's especially important now at the start of the Lent campaign. It helps so much. People are always generous, aren't they? I know people are struggling at the minute. I know that.
"People are losing jobs everywhere, they're struggling to put food on their own tables. Then you've got this increase in gas and electricity prices on top of that. But people always come good."
For more information on the Lent campaign visit trocaire.org.
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