Tag Archives: Mike Tyson

Do we really need boxing’s bad blood and feuds?

How far do boxers need to go in order to grab our attention when it comes to hyping up a big fight? And how far is too far?

These are questions that came to mind when Dereck Chisora threw a table at Dillian Whyte during a news conference to promote their recent contest in Manchester.

Are the months of sweat, pain and dedication that goes into preparing for a bout not enough to attract viewers? Does there have to be bad blood – or at least what appears to be real animosity between boxers?

“There was mutual respect shown in the end, but then we all know that they didn’t really hate each other’s guts in the first place”

That certainly seemed to be the case in 2002, when Mike Tyson sank his teeth into Lennox Lewis’s leg during a press conference brawl in New York.

A few years down the line, it was David Haye gatecrashing the media event after Vitali Klitschko had beaten Chisora (that man again).

A heated exchange of insults quickly descended into chaotic scenes in which Chisora was hit with a bottle and threatened to ‘shoot’ and ‘physically burn’ his fellow British heavyweight.

Ahead of their fight at West Ham’s Upton Park stadium, the two Londoners were kept apart by a fence and a battalion of security staff.

Sworn enemies?

Back to Chisora v Whyte, and was that airborne item of furniture really necessary just to sell a few more satellite and cable TV pay-per-views?

It resulted in their bout being stripped of its British title status, and could have resulted in someone – a journalist, photographer or passing PR person – getting seriously injured. All in the name of selling a fight.

As it turned out, that fight was a bona fide thriller, with Whyte winning by a split decision and the general consensus being it was one of the year’s best contests.

There was mutual respect shown between the two fighters in the end, but then we all know that they didn’t really hate each other’s guts in the first place.

Isn’t it fascinating how we lap up the pre-fight narrative of boxers being sworn enemies, only to commend them for sharing a warm embrace at the end of the fight.

Trash talk

Boxing is particularly prone to opponents trash-talking each other, and has a long tradition of fighters ‘calling out’ rivals and threatening to do all sorts to them once they step into the ring.

“There is a serious side of ‘the noble art’ that is being completely being ignored in favour of the gimmicky, the soundbite and the video clip that goes viral”

Surely what makes a fight is the match-up, the clash of style and tactics, the test of character and one’s chin inside the ropes, not at a press conference or weigh-in.

True, nobody was better at winding up opponents that Muhammad Ali, but this was a form of verbal showmanship – you never saw ‘The Greatest’ throwing tables at George Foreman or Joe Frazier.

Their fight build-ups involved no flying furniture, or any need for an army of heavies to keep two adults apart in case they couldn’t possibly resist the temptation to knock each other’s blocks off there and then, with no cheque, title or win-loss record at stake.

Struggles

Perhaps ‘the show’ is losing its credibility as a result of too much window dressing. Instead of magnifying meaningless spats that happened years ago, why don’t promoters focus more on the human stories of these boxers and their backgrounds?

Okay, so when Whyte fought Anthony Joshua in yet another ‘grudge’ bout, they were indeed former amateur opponents, with Whyte the winner over three rounds.

But when it came to Whyte v Chisora, we were told their feud was all down to a few sparring sessions in the gym a while back.

What about the struggle that each boxer has had to face throughout their careers? Why do they fight? Why do choose to risk their health every time they enter the ring?

There is a serious side of ‘the noble art’ that is being completely being ignored in favour of the gimmicky, the soundbite and the video clip that goes viral.

Reckoning

Nick Blackwell had to be placed in a medically induced coma for a week after his fight with Chris Eubank Jr earlier this year.

Eduard Gutknecht underwent surgery after his fight with George Groves, and Mike Towell died after his fight with Dale Evans as a result of severe bleeding and swelling to the brain.

Whyte and Chisora are both family men. Is there not a better story to be told here in light of recent events?

Chisora’s £30,000 fine and his suspended two-year ban isn’t going to do much in the way of deterring this sort behaviour in the name of selling a fight.

The irony is, when the hour of reckoning came, their fight proved to be truly memorable one.

But while actual tickets to a fight night are limited by the size of the arena, there are always more PPVs to be sold, so the hype and the press conference antics will continue.

One day, someone is really going to get hurt…

Getting hooked on table tennis

Glued to my sofa on a drab Tuesday night, having earlier consumed a kebab, I wasn’t necessarily in the market to try out a new sport.

However, my table tennis fanatic friend Junaid worked hard to convince me to come and give his game a try at a local sports club in Slough, Berkshire.

Despite my initial lack of eagerness, once we arrived I had a funny feeling in my stomach. At first I thought it might be something to do with that kebab, but it wasn’t.

It was more an adrenaline rush and a feeling of nervousness mixed with enthusiasm.

Being competitive by nature, I was filled with tension because I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of experienced players, but in hindsight that tension ensured I was motivated to have fun and try something new.

Popularity 

Having become an Olympic sport since 1988, table tennis has been in the limelight for many years.

Its origins go back to the 1880s as game-makers tried to emulate the popularity of lawn tennis by developing indoor versions.

“As I got to grips with the sport, I wanted a doubles match with another pairing. My competitive nature was taking over…”

The sport is simple. It is played by two players (singles) or four players (doubles) on a 2.7m x 1.5m table.

They repeatedly hit a 40mm-diameter ball made of celluloid and plastic over and around the net by using rackets (also known as bats) made out of wood that are covered by pimpled rubber.

The object is to score 11 points before your opponent.

In a game where each player has two serves, they hit the ball back and forth and must only allow a ball played towards them to bounce once on their side of table, and the opponent must return it so it bounces on the opposite side.

If the score becomes tied at 10 points each, the first player or pair to gain a two point lead will be victorious. In addition, a match will consist of winning the best of any odd number of games such as: 3, 5 or 7.

Serve it up 

As I prepared myself in the changing rooms, the noise inside the hall was pretty deafening. You could hear balls being rhythmically knocked back and forth and the anguished cries of those  struggling with the pace.

There was certainly a competitive feel to the atmosphere, even though – like me – not all the people present were seasoned table tennis hitters.

Finding a spot and table wasn’t hard due to the impressive facilities at the club.

My friend eased me in at first but as I got to grips with the sport, I wanted a doubles match with another pairing. My competitive nature was taking over…

Junaid found an experienced partnership who were no doubt feeling smug about their prospects of victory, but I warmed up thoroughly, determined to not to be embarrassed in my first competitive table tennis game.

Surprising myself 

It was time for the showdown. At the back of my mind, I was thinking of when Mike Tyson the huge favourite, lost to Buster Douglas and it just gave me the confidence to surprise the other pair.

“After believing in my own abilities, I managed to give them a scare so next time hopefully I can hand them a defeat”

I served first but my nerves got the better of me and it went straight into the net, but Junaid was quick to push me on and said ‘Continue doing that, it will pay off, trust me.’

As I got into the flow, I started to put my stamp on the game and alongside Junaid, we caused our opponents plenty of problems.

They were on the backfoot for most of the contest as our youthful energy paid dividends. My confidence grew and I unleashed a destructive hit that startled the opposition. I was here to play.

However, experienced eventually told and they rallied to earn a 3-2 victory.

But afterwards they came over and said ‘We didn’t think you had it in you, that was a good workout. You better be here next week – we will certainly have a rematch.’

Those words gave me so much encouragement. At first, I thought I would be a disaster and there was no hope, but after believing in my own abilities, I managed to give them a scare so next time hopefully I can hand them a defeat.

Try it! 

Football is my main sporting passion, but table tennis was tremendous fun. Despite it being a challenging sport to master at first, it’s one people of all ages and abilities can enjoy and it also gives you a really good workout.

There will almost certainly be a club in your area that welcomes newcomers, and if you are feeling spontaneous you could even try it at home!

Just watch out for your mum’s best dinner service if you do decide to give it a go on your dining table.

By deciding to give up my sofa for a strenuous cardiovascular work out, I not only improved my endurance levels but I enjoyed doing something different and I would recommend everyone to give the sport a try.

To find out where you can give table tennis a go, visit the Table Tennis England website.