THE REAL HEROES
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