Saturday, 17 October 2009
Just because I like boxing it doesn't mean I'm a bad person!
When Carl Froch climbs through the ropes tonight to defend his WBC super-middleweight title against unbeaten Andre Dirrell it will be an event sadly ignored by the overwhelming majority of the British public. It's a shame, but boxing just does not have the mass appeal of the past. However, one small consolation for the reduced attention given the fight game is that we don't have to suffer so many ill-informed calls for the sport to be banned.
As a kid the first two women Labour MPs that I became aware of were Bessie Braddock and Edith Summerskill. They both had strong views on boxing, Braddock being a fan and Summerskill a fervent abolitionist. When I grew up and started to hang out with progressive, leftie bohemians I found that my love of boxing was rather looked down on. I'm talking about middle-class revolutionaries here; solid working class militants usually took a keen interest in the game. All this was brought home to me a few years later when I attended the first ever Men Against Sexism conference. What an experience. Now bear in mind that I had spent much of my working life around tough dockers and seamen but these 'new men' provided one of the most aggressive, testosterone fueled gatherings I had ever come across. It really was pretty heavy. Anyway at one stage myself and a few like minded comrades decided to investigate the pub opposite the conference venue. As it turned out this pub was the HQ of the London branch of the Ex Professional Boxers Association and the bar was more or less wall to wall scar tissue. A warm and generous spirited welcome was extended from a bunch of genuine hard men with nothing left to prove. A stark contrast to the 'progressives' across the road. Anyway, good luck tonight Carl.