The new year is truly underway.
I know this because I’ve already passed my birthday. I have written 2016 on various important documents mistakenly and I’m in a coffee shop attempting to find reasons to back up the theory that ‘Valentines Day is just too commercial!’.
Over the last few weekends, myself and the #FightTalk boss Sam O’Reilly have been in attendance at the first DoveBox show of the new year. York Hall was the venue. Where else? Then, HellRaiser hit the town! Then, throughout March, the Don of the small hall Goodwin Boxing rolls out some fantastic bills including it’s Bethnal Bedlam card.
Also this year, BT Sports are dipping their toe in the water after linking up with Frank Warren. ITV Box Office is, aside from criticism, a thing.
SkySports & Matchroom continue swallowing up Britains Olympians and ploughing money into mega-bills such as Bellew/Haye and Joshua/Klitschko.
Think of all of the afore-mentioned big money players as the flashy, jewellery clad persona that British boxing hastens to adopt.
The small hall promoters, undoubtedly, are the heart & soul of the sport. The pulse. The blood that pumps through gyms, trainers and fighters giving life to careers of young men and women.
They are; the debt. The risk. The profit. The loss. The sweat. The dirt. The passion. The pride. The loyalty. The beginning. The end.
For every Kell Brook, there is a warrior like John O’Donnell. When paying to watch Ohara Davies, someone else is watching Siar Ozgul. As commentators drool excessively over Conor Benn, plenty turn a blind eye to a talent like Dean Richardson.
#FightTalk use the tagline ‘Boxing, from the ground up…’ and what could be more important than that? For every million-pound purse, there are ten men fighting part-time and grafting to feed their family. The grass roots of a sport as physically demanding and dangerous as boxing deserves the attention it currently craves.
You cannot begin to imagine the atmosphere at a York Hall show when Isaac Chamberlain pops his shoulder out and battles to win his first belt. Your perception of an electrifying event is skewed if all you watch are mega-fights were neither man has anything to lose.
(Now there is nothing wrong with that! It’s boxing and the athletes involved are of the highest calibre. But don’t write off a Goodwin Boxing show in Bethnal Green!)
Listen to Karl Wheeler, talking about getting back into boxing after retiring to become a single parent. Soak up the emotion in his voice as he tells you he got back into boxing after his son asked him, “Dad, what is it you do for a job?”. He’s not fighting for the WBA. He’s putting everything on the line for the Southern Area. In the ‘small hall’.
This year we will see fights take place all over the globe from New Zealand to New York. British boxers will win world titles and ultimately lose them too. Myself & Sam will follow those big events, of course! But I truly believe that this year, with the quality of matchmaking, managing and promoting at the lower levels of the sport – the small halls will rise to prominence.
You’ll see emerging talent, heart and determination. You’ll see disappointment and pain as fighters fall short. You may even grab a selfie with a former champion or catch some sweat in your eyeball!
Most importantly, from the corner of that eye, you’ll see a small hall promoter who puts everything (time, money, energy, life) into making this all possible. And why? It’s for the love of boxing.
Support them. Because without them – so many of our fighters have nothing.