UFC 145lb title contender Conor McGregor has become one of the most polarizing figures in MMA in the relatively short amount of time he has been exposed to an international audience – so imagine FO’s surprise when his father, Tony McGregor revealed exclusively to us that his childhood wasn’t that spectacular.

In a rare interview inside the latest issue of Fighters Only magazine, McGregor Sr. talks in-depth about his son’s upbringing, how he got started in the realm of combat sports and more. Read below for a sneak preview.

“Barry McGuigan and Steve Collins came along later when I was more mature. I remember when McGuigan beat Eusebio Pedroza. I would have been 25 at the time. McGuigan was the first big sporting guy in the modern era to come out of Ireland.”

Boxing, then, was the first influence.

“Conor had a brief liaison with boxing and I always knew he had capable skills as a boxer,” he adds. “Boxing would have been close to our family because my father was a boxer as well. He was a championship boxer, but only at amateur level. He never progressed. Work and life got in the way of things, as it does for most people.

“Funnily enough for Conor, life doesn’t get in the way for him. Work is his life. For the majority of people, though, they don’t have the luxury of engaging in full-on sport because life gets in the way unfortunately.

“I also had a really brief dalliance with boxing as a school kid. I never followed it through. Fighting didn’t have the same interest for me.

“Conor wasn’t more remarkable than anyone else as a small kid. My interest would have been to get him educated first, to be honest. But I also knew I had a good left hook, by the way. And does get that from the McGregor clan.”

McGregor Sr. describes his son’s upbringing as “very normal.” His early years were like any other Dublin boy.

“We’d holiday at the Costa del Sol (Spain),” he says “It would just be a regular family holiday in the sun. He didn’t really want for anything. He had all the latest toys, the latest PlayStation and the latest bike. There was nothing outstanding about his upbringing. That’s what makes it all the more remarkable for us.

“He just had a love of mixed martial arts. It took over his teenage life. He reveled in it. He loved every aspect of it. As a young kid, he would have been into the Wrestlemania guys – ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and so on.”