RingSide Report

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Respect… Humility… Traits Everyone Should Have…

By Donald “Braveheart” Stewart

An opinion piece from the only Donald worth listening to…

Full Stop – In British English grammar a full stop is a lengthy pause, in the US, you call it a period. In the UK that tends to suggest feminine products. Here it means a period of time where I look at something in boxing in a little more depth. I am typing from my perspective of a fan who watches the sport closely. It’s an opinion. It is my opinion. Don’t like it? There are other opinions out there but if you don’t like it then good, debate and democracy are a good thing. If you do like it, feel free to spread the word.


It’s a quality that people ought to work towards. How? Humility and returning it to people who deserve it. And who deserves it more than the fan who has worked all week to earn the cash and pay it at the entrance to your fights.

I once worked with a young lad who loved snooker. He was obsessed with it and his hero was Ronnie O’Sullivan. We worked on getting him a chance to meet his hero, a multiple world champion and got him tickets to the Scottish Open in Glasgow. He was expectant and excited, I am told as he made his way to the event, as he had bought all the books, studied all the matches and styled his own play on his hero.

He went as an O’Sullivan fan and returned as a fan of another player – why? When he approached O’Sullivan to talk to him, having mustered up the courage to do so, O’Sullivan was not wanting to be bothered. Another player, Scot John Higgins, meanwhile made time, spent time and gave him photographs and signed things away as a true World Champion. The young man’s assessment of his former idol was brutal thereafter.

I was reminded of this entire event because of something that popped up on my Facebook page. It was Muhammad Ali recounting how he had walked all the way to a gym to meet his idol, Sugar Ray Robinson. Many hours passed as he sat waiting for Robinson to appear. He was going to tell him that he was going to the Olympics, that he would win a gold medal and become one day, heavyweight champion of the world. The look and the welcome he got when Robinson arrived made Ali swear to himself, he would never be so off hand with people, that he would never spend more time with himself than with the people who gave him his privileges by buying the tickets and taking the time to support him. And he never did. He never forgot that little kid, he was who waited for his hero and was disappointed by him.

Over this weekend we also saw Natasha Jonas, the first British boxer to box in an Olympics, and current two weight world champion, back in her boxing gym with her daughter, taking time to meet and talk to everyone. She was there with her coach Joe Gallagher. Gallagher was himself talking to fellow coach, Sugarhill Steward, about how his gym in Moss Side, Manchester is known as the UK Kronk, in homage to the style he uses and to the gym Steward now runs in honor of his father’s legacy.

Both Jonas and Gallagher were followed by a SKY camera crew, ahead of a SKY Boxing bill featuring all three of these world level boxing people. This was a fascinating tour of the facilities but also of the mutual admiration, of a daughter for her mother, for one trainer to another and for the young boxers who sweat and toil every day, manage their opportunities every week and the rest of us to be in awe of the dedication and humility each one showed.

Boxing is a sport that teaches not just discipline and respect but life lessons. We have plenty of examples of people who have toiled in their lives, found boxing and worked hard to get out of the precarious circumstances in which they have found themselves. It’s all a bit of a cliché to some.

Not to me.

Working class people need an outlet, but they need far more than that. They need opportunities to show they can develop and grow. They need people to help mold and teach them. They need people who are role models. We have the brash and the boastful in our gyms, the ones who decry and moan at people who are better noticed than them, they tend to be forgotten as their mouths run faster than their abilities. The problems with that are all too obvious as we see a number of fighters who are told they can box, told they can win and fall when they meet someone who has listened less to their entourage and more to themselves, fall at a given hurdle.

And there are working class communities where hope is in short supply. As the people who are at the top of any sport should always remember – it may well be where you end up that people
remember, but it is where you come from that defines your legacy. Ali, if he is any sort of real role model for you, taught you that one thing – remember that.

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