Boxing’s lack of structure is never more apparent than in the plight of retired fighters struggling to eke out an existence. Somehow ageing and the problems of ensuing retirement, seems more acute than on any other sportsman. Proud warriors, frightening, thunderous, larger than life characters humbled and humiliated by their loss of youth. A loss they so rarely see approaching. Lifetimes spent proving their physical superiority over the man opposing and, seemingly, the world at large – if only for a moment, replaced by an inability to function, provide or find direction in their post boxing life is an acute and distressing contrast.
Occasionally, the suggestion of a fighters’ union or some sort of cooperative of fighters to help provide for retired comrades who have fallen on hard times is aired and from time to time well meaning boxing personalities throw their weight behind an event or a particular cause but a long term, cohesive programme has yet to be found. In the meantime, gestures like the one Bobby Gunn makes in his forthcoming bout remain pertinent and necessary – not only to aide fighters like Iran Barkley, to whom Gunn promised to donate part of his purse to – but to alert boxing once more to the plight of its faded heroes.
World ranked Cruiserweight Bobby Gunn has announced that he will donate a percentage of his fight purse to former three division world champion Iran “The Blade” Barkley, following his August 25th title fight in Fairfax, Virginia. Gunn, who was the chief sparring partner for Barkley during his camp prior to winning the IBF Super Middleweight Championship from Darrin Van Horn, is happy to be giving back to a long time friend.
“Iran Barkley gave the fans a lot of great fights and I learned a lot from sparring with him” said the former IBA Cruiserweight Champion.
“He was also a very nice guy and the time spent in camp with him was truly a pleasure and something I will always remember. I feel that the boxing community should give back to him and other fighters in need. My cousin Mike Normile saw Iran at a fight recently and knew he needed help. I felt it was my place to do something about it”.Gunn also pointed out that not enough current fighters elect to help out legends of the past. “Many of today’s fighters are financially blessed, but you rarely see them giving back to the legends of boxing who could use their financial support. Hopefully what I am doing will open up eyes of other current boxers”.