THE REAL HEROES

Boxing News - - LETTERS -

I NEED to write about the small hall shows and their promoters. I’ve been to hun­dreds down the years, as well as some of the big­gest fights both in the UK and in the States, but while ap­pre­ci­at­ing the qual­ity of the 10 and 12-round boys, I al­ways come away from a ‘small’ show with the feel­ing that this (and the am­a­teurs) is what it’s re­ally all about.

All our glitzy cham­pi­ons have been there them­selves and thor­oughly de­serve to be where they are, but they would be quick to ac­knowl­edge that their suc­cess was only made pos­si­ble be­cause they’ve ‘trod­den the boards’ them­selves. They know that they owe ev­ery­thing to the un­her­alded spit and saw­dust work of small hall promoters and cor­ner­men. Debu­tant and novice four-rounders play their part, too. Six and eight-round men, most of whom will never be wealthy from the game, or renowned out­side the trade it­self, are ded­i­cated to this sport to the ul­ti­mate ben­e­fit of those who do make it big.

Many man­agers and promoters who have made the big time are still so in love with the game that they con­tinue to plug away at the roots like proud and lov­ing gar­den­ers. One such grounds­man is Greg Steene, who has been pro­mot­ing and manag­ing fighters for the best part of half-a-cen­tury. Dur­ing that time, he has cre­ated and han­dled world cham­pi­ons, and too many lesser pros to even think about. In re­cent times, he and his as­tute and ded­i­cated busi­ness part­ner, Mo Prior at British War­rior Box­ing Pro­mo­tion, han­dle a huge and ex­tremely busy sta­ble. They men­tor an en­vi­able crop of ris­ing stars – some fu­ture cham­pi­ons cer­tainly among them.

Last month, th­ese two unas­sum­ing gen­tle­men put to­gether an­other fine York Hall card, over­com­ing a late can­cel­la­tion of their top of the bill clash. De­fend­ing South­ern Area wel­ter­weight cham­pion Louis Greene re­lin­quished his ti­tle days be­fore his de­fence against War­rior Box­ing’s ex­cit­ing Chris Kongo for per­sonal rea­sons. Sev­eral other op­po­nents had to be found and matched as well in the days run­ning up to the show. This was done pro­fes­sion­ally and with aplomb, with the pay­ing cus­tomer fore­most in mind.

Ev­ery bout was well matched and en­ter­tain­ing, most go­ing the dis­tance, in­clud­ing house favourite Kongo’s. Such men as th­ese, along with an­other vet­eran trainer/man­ager Harry Hol­land, who also con­trib­uted to the show, are the real heroes be­hind the su­per­stars, and they de­serve huge credit. Peter Shaw

FITZSIM­MONS IN THE MIX

THE fan­tasy British/ir­ish mid­dleweight/ su­per-mid­dleweight tour­na­ment men­tioned by Wayne Bai­ley (Septem­ber 6) and Mark Taha (Septem­ber 13) got me think­ing. Both read­ers sug­gested some great box­ers. I’d like to throw an­other name into the mix – Bob Fitzsim­mons. I’d imag­ine that his op­ti­mum fight­ing weight would’ve been around the su­per­mid­dleweight limit of 168lbs.

The old film footage from over 100 years ago never seems to do the fighters jus­tice – it al­ways looks like slow mo­tion. How­ever, from what I’ve read over many years, Bob could punch se­ri­ously hard, as James J. Cor­bett stated. Re­flect­ing on when he hit the can­vas in the 14th round of their world heavy­weight ti­tle fight in 1897, Cor­bett said: “I was con­scious of ev­ery­thing that went on, the si­lence of the crowd, the agony on the faces of my sec­onds, the wait­ing Fitzsim­mons, but my body was like that of a man stricken with paral­y­sis.”

It cer­tainly would’ve been fas­ci­nat­ing to see how Fitzsim­mons would’ve fared against the likes of Len Har­vey, Jock Mcavoy, Ran­dolph Turpin, Nigel Benn, Joe Calza­ghe etc. Pick­ing a win­ner of such a tour­na­ment would be very dif­fi­cult. Alan Chea­tle

IMAG­INE: Fitz­im­mons’ rep­u­ta­tion echoes through the sport’s his­tory

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