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ESPN wrote a big feature on Conor McGregor and its depiction of Dublin is getting torn to shreds

“Crossing the wrong street has traditionally been reason enough for an ass-whipping.”

ESPN MAGAZINE’S ‘FIGHTING Issue’ comes out on August 21 and – unsurprisingly given his bout against Floyd Mayweather is just five days later – Conor McGregor is gracing its cover.

The splash talks about his “dangerous road” to Mayweather:

The longread cover story is written by renowned American sportswriter Wright Thompson and delves into the Dublin gym scene, McGregor’s mood in the run-up to the fight and his roots in Crumlin.

The rather hyperbolic depiction of Dublin has come under fire since the article appeared online yesterday. Particularly this passage

The Crumlin Road sounds like it’s the setting of a hip hop rivalry that would beat out the Tupac/Biggie feud for sheer brutality:

It’s a clannish, parochial place. Crossing the wrong street has traditionally been reason enough for an ass-whipping.
Men have had to drop dates off at bus stops instead of walking them all the way home. About 60 boxing clubs still dot the city, training kids to defend themselves and their block, each gym a world unto itself.
The neighboring, rival communities of Crumlin and Drimnagh are within the gritty Dublin 12 postcode, separated only by Crumlin Road, which runs on an east-west diagonal.

The piece itself is over 5000 words long – and being widely praised outside of Ireland – but for Irish readers, this portrayal of Dublin as a war-torn gangland just seemed off

ESPN themselves shared the article on Twitter and the replies were telling:

As a Dubliner this article is offensive, full of shite and inaccurate..
as a dubliner i find tat hilarious!! Its not a fckin war zone. We have choices. He happened to be a good fighter
Who the hell was telling yous that? Jesus Dublins not a war town

Who knows what an American reader – or anyone else for that matter – would make of Crumlin and Dublin after reading the piece

crossing Source: ESPN

Phrases like “turf” and “projects” are littered throughout, and many of the sections about McGregor’s hometown just don’t sit right:

Any mysteries about him can be solved on his home turf: an area named Crumlin, built in the 1930s just south of Dublin’s center, when the government tore down the inner-city tenements and needed a new place to house the poor. The Irish revolutionary writer Brendan Behan was one of those moved there, and he described his new home as a place “where they eat their young.”

There might be so much to praise in the article, but it’s hard to get past the stereotyped Dublin parts to enjoy it

The opprobrium from here has even started to reach those across the Atlantic

There’s been no response from Wright Thompson to the controversy yet – but he might just be taking some time out to recover from his visit.

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About the author:

David Elkin

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