Former mixed martial arts fighter turns politician

A former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter is getting ready for a battle of a different kind as he prepares to step into the Irish political arena.

Dubliner Paddy Holohan, who fought five times in the UFC, has decided to run in the upcoming local elections in May.

He announced his candidacy for Sinn Fein on Thursday.

Mr Holohan, who was known as The Hooligan when he was a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, described himself as an “accidental politician”.

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Honoured to be have been asked to run as Jobstown’s @sinn_fein candidate alongside @dermotrichardson and @louisedunne28 in this May election. I have lived in the Jobstown community all my life and have wore it proud throughout my career. It is close to my heart and I want to see it thrive and grow for everyone in it. Special thanks to Cathal King for all of the help and support he has given me and my team and will no doubt continue his amazing work in Tallaght Central alongside Cora McCann. I couldn’t look at my grandkids and say I kept my hands in my pockets at a time like this in Ireland. It’s not as much politics needed, but rather some common sense as such – I’m no expert but I will apply myself to this like I have other projects with great passion and work ethic! Vote #Holohan #1

A post shared by Paddy "The Hooligan" Holohan (@paddyholohanmma) on

He said he got so frustrated by watching what was happening politically in the country that he felt he had to do something.

“I mistakenly fell into it,” he said. “I’m an accidental politician.”

He said it was really difficult for young people in Dublin to picture a future when the cost of living in the capital was so high.

He added he owned a gym but could not afford to buy a house.

The 30-year-old said he was going to take a martial arts approach of improving a little bit at a time when it came to his political career.

“I’m just going to be as transparent and be as honest as I can. I’m not going to bombard myself with a million things to do. I’m going to make sure that when I take something on, that I focus on doing that thing on that day to the best of my ability,” he said.

Paddy Holohan
Paddy Holohan at his SDG Gym in Tallgaht, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA)

“I’m not coming in here as an expert. I’m not coming in here as a know-it-all. I’m coming in here I’d say as a white belt. I’m a white belt in this and I’m looking forward to working on my ranks.”

The MMA fighter, who grew up in a single parent household in Jobstown in Dublin, spent a lot of time in Lenadoon in Belfast as a child in the early 1990s.

He said it gave him a valuable insight into life both north and south of the border.

“When I used to go up there I had a big Ronnie Drew accent so sometimes I had to keep down my accent in places that we were. It was kind of weird for a kid to be going through,” he said.

He took up jujitsu and MMA when he was 17-years-old because he “wanted to do something with his life”.

“When I made that decision to get my act together, that’s when my life changed,” he said.

“It was like an anti-depressant to me. It had the same reaction.”

Mr Holohan was forced to retire from the UFC in 2016 due to a rare blood disorder. He now runs his own gym, SBG Dublin 24 in Tallaght, and it will be the Tallaght South electoral area of South Dublin County Council where he will be seeking votes in May.

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