From UFC fighters to WWE superstars, longtime barber Brian Basile, who owns Strong Island Styles in Glen Cove, is no stranger to giving haircuts to celebrities. His encounter with MMA fighter Conor McGregor, however, was unlike any other that he has had.
“That experience was amazing to me to be a part of a historical fight,” Basile said. “To cut his hair for the most important press conference that he had, it really humbled me to be a part of it.”
Basile, 35, of Glen Cove, traveled through the busy streets of Manhattan with McGregor and his crew in their convoy of cars on July 13, the day he had a news conference with boxer Floyd Mayweather. That day was part of a four-day, three-country press tour to promote a boxing match between the two set for Aug. 26.
When Basile was finally able to cut McGregor’s hair, he was at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge near the Barclays Center, where the conference was held. This was after McGregor purchased a $48,000 coat.
For Basile, cutting McGregor’s hair was “nerve-wracking.” “I think I was more intimidated cutting Connor’s hair than I was filming a TV show and competing against other barbers,” said Basile, who once was a contestant on Cedric’s Barber Battle, a competition hosted by actor and comedian Cedric the Entertainer in 2015.
When Basile started cutting McGregor’s hair, he said the fighter showed little emotion. Eventually, though, McGregor opened up to Basile.
“We were laughing, joking around. We talked about Mayweather, and he talked about the $48,000 jacket he just brought,” Basile said.
After cutting McGregor’s hair, Basile was invited to the news conference and told that he could sit in the front row. He said he felt honored to be with McGregor’s team, but then when his crew wanted Basile to cut their hair — that was the best.
Despite cutting hair for other professional athletes, Basile said, McGregor is number one.
“Conor has to be the most A-listed person I have ever cut,” Basile said. “Some of the other people I cut were really famous, but Conor is right at the top.”
Basile added that McGregor, who was visiting Manhattan for the first time, had told him that he loved the city, even though he didn’t know what to expect.
When Basile met McGregor’s agent Auddie Attar in 2016, he was given the chance to cut one of his other fighters. Then the barber was introduced to McGregor’s trainer John Kavanagh. He’s been friends with the two ever since.
“Every time they were in town, I would text him, or he would text me if he needed any New York hospitality,” Basile said.
Cutting McGregor’s hair has been a real plus for Basile, who said his social media presence “blew up” just days after his time with McGregor. He got 6,000 new followers on his Instagram account within three days of posting his photos with McGregor.
“I’ve been getting messages from people all over the country,” he said. “A couple of companies sent me boxing gloves and boxing apparel just to see if I could get them to Conor, which I thought was really cool.”
Now in his 11th year of business in Glen Cove, Basile said he’s thankful to be a part of the community. “We do a lot for the community, and the community does a lot for us as well,” he said. “I’m loyal to the people, and the people are loyal to me.”
As for McGregor, Basile said the MMA fighter told him that he would knockout Mayweather in their upcoming match.