Growing up in the streets of Crumlin, a tough neighborhood in the south of Dublin, Conor McGregor had to learn how to defend himself from an early age. Although football was his first love, it was with boxing that Conor McGregor would develop a special relationship.
At a key stage of his development, Conor McGregor began to take fighting classes at Straight Blast Gym under coach John Kavanagh's guidance. It was a welcome outlet for his restless energy and natural talent.
"When you grow up where I'm from, you get into fights. Being able to defend myself was always something that occupied a lot of my mind. It occupied all of my mind, to be honest," said Conor McGregor.
With time, the hobby became an obsession. Conor McGregor started to spend more time at the gym than anywhere else. However, regardless of how much he wished to become a professional fighter, that was still miles away from his reality.
Conor McGregor's family began pressuring him to find a more realistic, stable job. Even though he believed in his abilities and potential, Conor McGregor ended up conceding to his parents' request. He left school at 17 to start working as a plumber's apprentice.
"I hated every minute of it. You were talking 14 or 15-hour days. I was getting ordered around, getting people their lunch, all this crap. I just thought, 'This life isn't for me, I'm going to pack it in. I'm going to chase my dreams'," said Conor McGregor.
Eighteen months on the job, "The Notorious One" decided he had enough of that. This time, not even his parents' protests were enough to convince him.
"They'd ask me what I was going to do when I lose a fight. I told them [that] by the time I'm 25 [years old], I'm going to be a self-made millionaire," said Conor McGregor.
With coach Kavanagh's help, Conor McGregor returned to focus most of his time to improve his skills as a mixed martial artist. And his hard work would pay off.
The turning point in Conor McGregor's life
Conor McGregor had people who also believed in his potential. From the first time coach John Kavanagh laid his eyes on the young Irish fighter when he entered Straight Blast Gym, he knew Conor McGregor had something special.
"You could tell that he hit hard. And that's difficult to teach. What made him different was he was obsessive," said coach Kavanagh of Conor McGregor.
The coach was right. It took five years fighting in local promotions, but eventually, Conor McGregor's competence was finally recognized. The UFC approached him with a promising contract and the offer of the possibility of a new life - one that Conor McGregor was ready to have.
It was an interval of only three years from beating Marcus Brimmage on his UFC debut to becoming the first fighter to hold two weight class titles at the same time. If anyone was surprised on seeing Conor McGregor's rapid growth in the UFC, he was not.
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