Lance Stevenson’s grotesque prattling about getting inside LeBron James’s head in the midst of the NBA Play Offs bore a nauseating resemblance to claptrap spouted by Kevin Keegan and Ron Atkinson when they were besieged by the inevitability of failure. The latest case, needless to say, concluded similarly. Now read on…
At one stage of your columnist’s education, a typewriter was enlisted to leave things a little easier. The new fangled gizmo was quite the head turner at the time it was operated on batteries and with spools of ink. Compared to the abundance of technology available now, though, it’d be like mowing 100 acres with a horse drawn machine.
Proliferation of new machines, platforms with which to use them and, thus, opinions almost constantly dominating the public arena has showcased a side to all sports not seen in times past. Verbose verbal self proclamation is now a ghastly part of many sporting practitioners tactical armoury.
Boxing is one discipline in which far too much weight is placed on thrash talking. However, Chris Eubank declaring that he “Did it for the money” around the time of his clashes with Steve Collins, obnoxious as it was, also represented a refreshing honesty in an arena where the circus-like side show often gains more spotlight than the supposed main event.
It’s as timely to remember as it easy to understand why much of what ensues within the amateur ranks of pugilism is decidedly more laudable than much of which transpires once the helmets and vests are discarded. People like Billy Walsh and Katie Taylor represent what the sport should be pinpointing. Their achievements merely magnified by realisation of the strife they negotiate en route to attaining greatness.
Reconciling that, essentially, such outstanding ambassadors occupy the same world as promoters like Frank Warren, Don King and Eddie Hearn borders on impossible. Especially in light of some of the more histrionic theatrics employed in the build up to the recent rematch of Carl Froch and George Groves.
Opinion among the boxing fraternity was apparently fairly unanimous that Groves was more than a shade hard done by with the verdict when the two originally met. However, the vanquished must in hindsight concede that he may have, in fact, detracted from his own chances of atonement by allowing himself to be lured into the seemingly endless mind games prior to the rematch.
Although Froch’s ferociously spectacular expunging of his opponent removes any margin for doubt as to who the better pugilist is, that he was even more culpable in the phony wars diminishes – to some degree at least – claims to praise and sought after acclamation from the Froch camp and supporters thereof.
Naturally, anyone who garners the ultimate accolade in their chosen code is deserving of acknowledgment. That said, an often understated part of what defines a true champion should revolve how they carry themselves in victory. Perhaps even more so when fate doesn’t shine on them.
Patriotic bias will obviously lead one to think that competitors in any activity to whom there is even the loosest of connections are a shade better than anyone else. If not in terms of actual achievements, then for the way in which they conduct themselves, whether in the competitive arena in which they earn their living or outside of it.
In terms of boxing, in this country we’ve been fortunate over the years to have a plethora of successful amateurs – to which Taylor has been a glorious addition – as well others such as Matt Macklin and Steve Collins and Bernard Dunne who performed with distinction – which Macklin continues to do – in the pro ranks.
Ah, the days of Collins and Dunne were simpler times, when what went on inside the ropes got more attention than what preceded or followed it.