1 December 2009

Stand up and fight

Tomorrow night I am off to see a World Title fight in Sydney. I know that many readers are not the slightest bit interested in boxing and no doubt a few of you will have very strong views - fair enough, these days there are good arguments to be made against it. However, one of the combatants, Roy Jones Jr. is one of the few boxers of recent years - even decades - who can be described as one of the all time greats. That's basically why I am going.

I loved boxing (note my use of the past tense) but like so many sports it has been ruined by too many people wanting too many fingers in the pie. An alphabet suit of different boxing organizations and God knows how many weight divisions and meaningless titles, has spoiled the game and the excitement. The words "World Title Fight" used to have meaning. Now they are nothing more than words to describe two men belting the bejeebers out of each other. It wont stop me going tomorrow though!

I wish both boxers well, and if truth be told - especially local boxer Danny Green, one of the gentlemen of the sport. I must admit that a few years ago, I did criticize Danny Green for carrying a four year old girl, (who had been badly burned in an accident) into the ring on his shoulders - a symbol of fighting spirit. A boxing ring is no place for a four year old girl.

Back in 1994, I started research for a book that I still intend to complete. When I set out to do something, I do it - even if it does take a few years to do so!

It is a book on the early days of boxing at Sydney Stadium. I have 22 folders of photocopied newspaper articles, photographs, private letters and papers from private collections. I have footage from Australian archives of some of the early boxers. I used to spend hours in a semi darkened cubicle reading microfilm newspapers. I would follow a boxers career for years, then perhaps 20, 30 or more years later, I would be reading an old paper and read of their death or illness and I would feel sad. Hell, they may have died 50 years ago, but I felt as though I knew them. I felt an affinity, knew their personalities.

My interest in those early years is not so much the actual fights - but the people involved. It was a Runyonesque era with colorful characters and stories of hardship and of triumph and even fellowship. It was an era of - people. Real people, not cardboard cut outs in black suits that we see so much of now - in all walks of life.

So much about sport has changed from my early memories - rugby, cricket, football. Many of the changes are for the better, but far too many are not. Take rugby for example - where players no longer work their way into a representative team, they are purchased from other codes and even other countries. There is no sense of identity. I don't particularly want to support a state or national representative team that is stacked with players who were bought from "outside".

Of course, it could be said that I am just a miserable old sod. Fair enough - but I am a happy miserable old sod!

I will leave you with one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite musicals - "Stan' Up and Fight" from Carmen Jones. To me it's not so much a song - it's a philosophy.


Wherever you may be - be safe

Copyright Mike Hitchen Online, Lane Cove, NSW, Australia. All rights reserved