Boxing Is a Celebration of Savagery; Says BARRY HEARN, Who Made a Fortune Promoting the Sport

By Keevins, Hugh | Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), January 9, 2000 | Go to article overview

Boxing Is a Celebration of Savagery; Says BARRY HEARN, Who Made a Fortune Promoting the Sport


Keevins, Hugh, Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)


PROMOTER Barry Hearn earned his place in British boxing history by making Chris Eubank a household name.

But Hearn has given a massive boost to the anti-boxing lobby by describing his first love as a "celebration of savagery".

The promoter, who will be in Glasgow in two weeks to see one of his stable, Michael Alldis, fight Maybole's Shaun Anderson for the British super- bantamweight Championship at the St. Andrew's Sporting Club, admits his ring activities have created a moral dilemma.

Hearn, also at the forefront of the snooker boom and chairman and owner of Leyton Orient FC, pointed out: "Boxing is anti-Christian and I can't disagree with anyone who holds that belief. The object of the exercise is to debilitate the other man and that has to raise moral questions about what we're selling as promoters.

"My production company has brought out one of the biggest selling boxing videos of the last 12 months called `Boxing Clever - The Perfect Punch,' which shows 101 of the best knock- out punches in 1999.

"I have to admit it's a celebration of savagery."

Hearn's decision to open up on his innermost feelings about the game that contributed so much to his personal wealth is also subtly making the point that clears his conscience for the rest of his working life in boxing.

He can decry boxing's brutality but no-one can deny him the right to let young men fight each other for money and glory if that's what they want to do.

Barry insisted: "Boxing is all about chasing the Holy Grail - and that pursuit of power over your fellow man is the most primitive instinct given to us by Mother Nature.

"Boxing is a dying sport because fewer people are willing to get into the ring, but what right does anyone have to prevent a willing participant from following his sporting interest?

"I think rock climbing is dangerous but I defend anyone's right to get out there if that's what they want to do.

"What I and every other promoter must do each time we put together a bill in 2000 and beyond is ensure fighters are properly matched.

"The public aren't idiots. There is a market for the kind of contest that puts men of equal strength in the ring together and offers value for money.

"That's when boxing has the unique capacity for creating moments of drama that stay vivid in the mind.

"Anything other than carefully matched fights threatens physical danger to one fighter and I want no part of that."

Hearn believes Alldis' self-belief will see him retain his title and he respects that kind of moral courage.

The promoter said: "If Michael had lost his last fight he might have wondered where his career was going but he didn't fail and now he's a British champion.

"I'm glad he'll start the defence of his title in Glasgow on a Burns Night Special.

"I wouldn't miss it because there is nothing like Burns Night anywhere else in the world. No other country has a concept like that and I like the idea of honouring one man's name.

"So I want boxing to honour it with respect and to treat itself with dignity at the same time."

Hearn pulled no punches in his assessment of boxing but his view cut no ice with Paul Weir, the Scot who became a global champion in record time, crowned world light-flyweight champ after only six pro contests.

Ayrshireman Weir is in the leisurewear business now but stressed: "Boxing is not about savagery. It's the noble art of self defence. I know there have been tragedies ranging from fatalities to men like Michael Watson being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of their lives.

"But I would sum up that side of the business by saying you can't go out into the rain without getting wet. …

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