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27th Apr 2018

Conor McGregor returns to gym for the reason so many have not given up on him

Patrick McCarry

Conor McGregor has been such a force of good in the life of Craig Rankin.

Rankin believes MMA has given him renewed purpose and drive in recent years. The 24-year-old was born with Spina Bifida, a condition, which he explained in his blog Being Disabled in Mixed Martial Artshas caused his right leg to be paralysed “from the top down”.

His condition has, he admits, caused him some moments when he has felt low but MMA, and the rise of McGregor through that world, has spurred him on.

He became intrigued by McGregor after seeing the UFC star on TV, and two day later he met him by chance in McDonalds. He wrote:

“I’m in McDonald’s with my friends and Conor McGregor walks in to get a coffee. I said to my mate, ‘Will I get a pic with him?’

“So he walked out of the bathroom and I said ‘Excuse me, Conor?’

“He replied  ‘A picture is it brother, yeah no problem, at all’. Got the pic.”

“I was expecting him to leave straight away but he didn’t he stayed and talked to me for 10 minutes maybe more. In those 10 minutes. I’ve never listened to someone with so much self-confidence nor have I been more fascinated by a human being in all my life.”

And so he made a vow that he would through himself into MMA and learn its ways. He was accepted at John Kavanagh’s Straight Blast Gym and has not looked back.

On Thursday, Rankin was back at SBG for another gruelling work-out session.

He took his place on a rowing machine and set himself the tough, tough goal of rowing 3,500 metres. He would not do it alone.

McGregor was in the gym and gave Rankin some much-needed support as he got towards his end goal. The final few pulls of Rankin’s feat – with McGregor counting him down – were captured on camera and shared by the young Dubliner:

Those that know McGregor, and frequent SBG, will tell you that ‘The Notorious’ is one of the most supportive and vocal teammates they have at the gym.

It is that investment in others, by McGregor, that so often appeals to is followers. While he may have slipped on a couple of occasions in recent months – the Bellator incident involving referee Marc Goddard and the Brooklyn bus attack being the most notable – the 29-year-old has many, many supporters out there that will not give up on him.