Disclaimer: I know, as a new-ish writer on a new-ish website that this piece has been deep-fried in irony. Trust me, I get it.
Disclaimer #2: There will be no pictures of an overweight Marcos Maidana holding guns or eating burgers whilst I write things like; ‘Maidana making a comeback?’ or refer to him as ‘Narcos Maidana’. If you want those, keep reading, I’ll sort you out.
As we embark on what could be a monumental year for the sport, boxing has made its long-awaited return to the mainstream. The nationalisation of Anthony Joshua and the appeal of superfights in the year-gone-by have made boxing a hot topic. Excellent, right?
I started writing bits and pieces on the sport just over a year ago. I created a WordPress account and started a blog, probably bored, definitely inexperienced. I wrote a few pieces for a website called TalkingBoxing, created by top class British boxing writer Shaun Brown. I was proper shit. Shaun took his time to teach me the ropes, something I always appreciated and try to make sure I ‘pass on’.
I’m big enough and moody enough to admit I got fed up writing words-and-words-and-words… only to be told it wasn’t ‘what someone was looking for’. On reflection though, it wasn’t good enough work. Easy. I turned to video interviews, audio interviews, gym visits and anything ‘easier’ or more accessible. When we launched FightTalk.net though, (early April 2017) I decided to work as hard as I could improving my craft. I’m sure some of it is still shit in comparison to the veterans; Brown, Flexen, Dooley, McRae, Worsell, ‘Walks‘, Payne, Probert, Zanon, Evans and many others. But, plenty of people seem to enjoy it, which is good enough for me!
Part of building a website from scratch is attracting readers, obviously. Social Media is a vehicle designed perfectly for sharing work, passing links to a large number of people who seemingly have an interest in the subject matter. Boxing forums such as Facebook’s Boxing Legion, Boxing Banter and Boxing Knowledge provide hundreds of thousands of eyeballs. Bonus being, they all love boxing! Let me show you some posts from the aforementioned…
Ruben, mate, what is going on? Is everything okay at home? We’re here for you…
I’m not entirely sure where to start here. At least he added the apostrophe after AJ… But ‘cum’ on.
If you want middle-aged men exchanging postcodes to set up fights amongst themselves, jump on the forums.
If you want those pictures of ‘Chino’ (callback), jump on the forums.
If you want some blanket racism, discrimination, bullying and public shaming of its members… jump on those forums ladies and gentlemen!
Boxing, as a sport in the spotlight, is incredibly accesible. The access given to up-and-coming writers or videographers is nuts and completely incomparable with other mainstream sports. This means a couple of things;
- An exclusive, is pretty hard to fucking come by. An issue beautifully summed up in Terry Dooley’s recent piece on the changing face of writing or covering the sport.
- Any Tom, Dick or Harry (or John, Neil, Patrick, Claire, Joanne) can set up a YouTube channel or a boxing blog. The quality of work is so varied, it’s mindblowing. I’ve seen people now posting articles as Facebook status’.
There are so many writers, contributors and interviewers in boxing now for free, it must make working for pay extremely challenging. A decent editor can tidy up an average 500 word piece on Tyson Fury if they aren’t paying the ten newcomers who scribed it. Why would they pay you for a detailed piece on Filipino boxing at its roots, when they can copy-and-paste clickbait headlines for free? It’s a sad state of affairs.
At FightTalk.net, we can’t pay writers. We don’t make any money. We are trying to build a brand and produce interesting, original content. We can’t pay you, but we also won’t contribute to the constant flow of Social Media fake news you see on other websites. There will be people reading this again referring to my first point, the irony. However dive deep into the murky, used-condom-infested waters of Twitter and explore some of the work out there. Spelling, grammar, re-writing history, stealing quotes, not crediting original content or sources. It’s so lazy.
But… and there is always a but! Are we duty-bound to encourage enthusiastic would-be-journalists? Should we or shouldn’t we be feeding that passion and supporting the newer blood? Yes, it’s hard to claw your way through some of these features or opinion pieces, you’re stopping for air now reading this! But, surely with some nurturing these men and women can become useful commodities, telling the stories some fans are crying out for?
A catch twenty-two, perhaps.
The responsibility these newcomers must undertake is that they are required to be the best they can be. Take twenty reviews of your work before publishing, read it out loud and see if it makes sense. Share it with someone you respect for tips or constructive feedback. You shouldn’t have one foot in the bathwater, if you want to do it, do it right.
And just think, what would this guy do…?
Written by Craig Scott