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Boxing champion meets Pope Francis at the Vatican

Pope Francis meets Argentine boxer Sergio 'Maravilla' Martinez during his general audience in St Peter's Square on Wednesday (CNS)

Middleweight world champion Sergio Martínez met Pope Francis at the Vatican earlier this week.

The Argentinian boxer went to the Pope’s weekly General Audience on Wednesday and gave him a replica of the WBC champion belt he won in September last year. It is believed that he spoke with the Pontiff about his It Gets Better anti-bullying campaign.

Prior to the meeting Martinez, 38, said: “In the past couple of months, I will have had two of my dreams as a Catholic come true, to visit the Basilica of our Lady Guadalupe in Mexico and to be received by the Pope. I will be asking the Pope for blessings and spiritual protection to all of those who enter the ring.”

Martinez is currently ranked as the fifth best boxer in the world in The Ring magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings and has won 51 of his 55 professional fighting, drawing twice and losing twice.

As part of his anti-bullying campaigning, in 2012 Martinez mentored a 14-year-old girl called Monique McClain, from Midtown, USA, who had to move schools due to the severe bullying she was suffering. Martinez offered her advice on how to cope with the bullies and dedicated his victory over Sergiy Dzinziruk to her.