16 September 2009 – By Mark Doyle
Martin Rogan has backtracked on his claim that Commonwealth heavyweight champion Sam Sexton was trying to exploit sectarian divisions within the Belfast community ahead of their eagerly-awaited rematch at the citys Odyssey Arena on November 6.
In a heated pre-fight press conference in Belfast last month, an enraged Rogan lashed out at Englishman Sexton for posing for photographs in front of what he claimed were loyalist murals in an alleged attempt to gain the favour of the citys Protestant community.
Sexton immediately denied the claims and, during a conference call on Wednesday, explained his actions.
“Id no idea what about it was about. I was told to do a public work-out and I did it. It was at a Protestant gym, the Eastside gym I believe. I had some pictures done inside and on the outside.
“But I also visited a Catholic gym. I dont understand the situation in Belfast. Im just there to box. I dont care about the politics.
“It mean doesnt anything to me. I wasnt trying to divide any communities. I visited both communities and made friends in both communities.
In response, Rogan accepted that he had overreacted and admitted that his outburst had been the result of personal issues which had been troubling him at the time.
“Emotions were running high. It wasnt really about Sam but it ended up being directed at him. A lot of things came out but I would like to say that it was totally out of character for me.
“Sams coming over to box and thats it. I accept that. I think everyone knows I wasnt myself that day and youll not see anything like that from me again.
“It wasnt me trying to get under his skin. There were just things happening on a personal level, and it all came out on the day.
“Ive no problem with Sam. Hes a boxer and I respect him so there are hopefully no hard feelings.” Rogan admitted that tensions within his camp, which ultimately resulted in his split from long-time trainer John Breen, may have contributed to his outburst.
“Things happen. People move on, people change. If theyre not happy in their job they move on. Weve all done history in school. What went on there his history. Im feeling brilliant, probably the best Ive ever felt,” he added.