Monday 20 November 2017

Off the Ball: Boxing must change ethos of 'fight till your last breath'

Gary 'Spike' O'Sullivan was pulled out of his bout with Chris Eubank Jnr. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile
Gary 'Spike' O'Sullivan was pulled out of his bout with Chris Eubank Jnr. Photo: Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile

Michael McCarthy

I was lucky enough to see an advance screening of Creed last week and it was fantastic. It ticks all the boxes of a Rocky movie, yet felt fresh enough to create its own franchise.

My only problem with it was an issue that's nothing new for a boxing film. It's not much of a spoiler to tell you there's a point in the film where everything looks hopeless for our new hero. In that moment, instead of concern for his health and safety, all those closest to him yearn for him to "get up". It's nothing new, as I said, but in 2016, it leaves you a little cold.

In the previous film Rocky Balboa, the State Athletic Commission are portrayed as the bad guys for not giving our leathery hero a boxing licence, 30 years after he won the world title.

I get that this is all just Hollywood, but it glorifies a machismo that is in-built in fight sports; a 'never give up' attitude, even when it's detrimental to your own health.

We recently had boxing coach Paschal Collins on the show. He was pilloried in certain quarters for pulling Spike O'Sullivan out of his fight with Chris Eubank Jnr, when his fighter was injured and he knew he couldn't win the bout.

I couldn't understand the criticism. Here we had a trainer clearly looking out for the best interests of his man. It should be a no-brainer.

But the prevalent attitude in boxing is still 'fight until your last breath'.

Donald Trump gets cheered when he talks about concussion and says America is going soft. There's still a significant amount of people out there who don't understand concussion, or refuse to. They don't want sport to "go soft".

At the same time Will Smith is starring in a film called Concussion, a far more exciting and successful movie is telling us to fight on no matter how unconscious we may have been or how concussed we are. It doesn't help. There's a long way to go.

Irish Independent

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