'Very Few People Have Won a War, but I May Have Done That in My Last Fight by Taking It on the Chin, So to Speak'; THE WORKS OF WISE MEN AND GREAT POLITICIANS PROVIDE THE INSPIRATION TO A FIGHTER
Byline: ALAN FRASER
CHRIS EUBANK does not have a haircut. He has a hair massage. I know this because for the first part of the interview he sat with his back to me facing a mirror and holding a thin paperback entitled The Sayings of Dr Johnson while Doug filed away at his coiffure.
The sayings of William Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde and Friedrich Nietzsche, among others, were placed, a little too strategically one felt, on the window sill either side of the looking glass.
Now, it is perfectly possible that the books normally resided there and that Eubank felt he needed a trim. But in half an hour of scraping and clipping, Doug - the barber in the same way that Goldfin-ger's Oddjob was an oddjob man - did not remove enough hair to fill the pillowcase of a fieldmouse.
The bizarre scene did, however, conform perfectly; a little too perfectly, one felt, to Eubank's image.
Where else would a vain man sit but in front of a mirror? What else would a pseudo-intellectual be reading but short soundbites from some serious heavyweights? And we are not talking boxers.
Eventually, I ventured that I had never interviewed the back of someone's head to the accompaniment of a pair of hovering scissors.
'It is a change,' replied Eubank.
'Something you can tell your children.' With anyone else, this would have been a half-decent joke. But Eubank is not given to joking and I am fairly sure that he was empha-sising my privileged, albeit comparatively lowly, position. Chris Eubank gives audiences rather than interviews.
Further evidence for this belief came from a story he told of Winston Churchill, gleaned presumably from his windowsill series.
Churchill, it seemed, had met the Prince of Wales in 1896 and failed to be either subdued or reserved.
'That happened to me a few years ago,' he explained, recalling a meeting with Prince Charles. 'I was full of myself. I talked to him as if he were a contemporary. (He may have meant equal). Rank should be respected. Through age and experience and wisdom, one realises that one did wrong. If only I had read that quote by Churchill all those years ago, I would have known to be reserved and subdued.' The mind boggles. It is difficult to imagine Eubank ever anything other than overflowing of himself.
Only now, his strutting and posing have some justification. Somehow, a fighter is entitled to behave extravagantly and extrovertly when he has reached down into himself inside the ring and laid everything on the line for all to see.
Eubank did that in bloody, barbaric defeat by Carl Thompson in Manchester last April. There had been Benn I and II and Watson I and II but that night at the Nynex Arena, he added substance to style and gained the respect of even his most ardent detractors.
Of which there were many. 'I received letters and faxes from anti-Eubank fans, diehards who had been turned around,' said Eubank with a laugh. 'They were beautiful letters. Some said they had never respected me but, after that performance, they would never hear a bad word said against me.
'If the passion in the letters could be condensed into power, transformed I mean, there would be enough in them to light a city. That is how powerful they were.
'What the public saw in the last fight was integrity being practised in the ring and that deserves people's respect. I had received respect before. I had won many battles. But they did not give me a heartfelt respect. That comes when one can see you being beaten and taking that defeat with dignity and humility, no matter what.
'Very few people have won a war, or the war, but I may have been able to do that in my last fight by staying there and showing people that I have a point of view and I will always put that across. It may have seemed to some that I wasn't the Real McCoy. But I showed I am by staying there in my time of crisis, taking it on the chin so to speak. …