You don’t ‘play’ boxing

There is much in the language and fundament of boxing that reverberates through the game of poker and much in the apparent simplicity of the two that deceives the ill-informed. Those who don’t linger, often dismiss, or fail to recognise, the skill and whit required to succeed. For fans and participants more in tune with the nuances and layers present in both, they recognise the guile required to lure an opponent in, to bluff, the psychology of what to do when faced with a stronger hand, when to cut and run, or go all-in.
How to resist exposing your discomfort or intention, maintaining a ‘poker-face’ whilst withstanding the flood of pain from an opponent’s attack or the revelation of impending victory.

I’ve played Poker, once or twice as a student for pennies, nothing more, and much like my pilgrimage to the local boxing club, aged 34, success was fleeting and usually preceded and followed by a much greater pain in return. Even with the pennies, literal and metaphoric, I had staked in both. The lessons received in the gym, many of them personal and some still being unravelled, remain invaluable. They were the ones I was seeking when I stepped over the threshold, the ones I expected. Purest and most tangible in that education was the realisation, or perhaps confirmation, that I didn’t, and never could’ve had, the skill or will to prevail. As true of poker as it was of boxing.

That remains a truth I carry with me when minded to put pen to paper about a fighter; fighters, by their very presence are already stepping beyond that which I am capable. Irrespective of their success on the slippery pyramid of boxing’s meritocracy.

The two endeavours exist on different physical planes of course, but as many a wizened old boxing trainer will remind those in their tutelage or any gathering of detritus they endure in these times of media churn; ‘boxing is 10% physical, 90% mental’. Staying cool under pressure, making decisions in the heat of the moment, resisting emotion, functioning with a view to both the short and longer term – these are part of the craft of boxing and the ‘art’ of poker.

Any competitive pursuit requires dedication, clear thought and an ability to recognise and quarantine one’s own emotions. To resist both the siren of self-doubt, that usually urges the human flight response, and the surge of adrenalin that fuels the fight reaction, requires intelligence and self-awareness. A quality, both instinctive and learned, or perhaps nurtured and curated in those blessed with it, is a defining and unifying trait among those greats we revere from the squared circle and those who cradle cards too.

One of the beauties of writing here, unhindered from an editorial voice beyond the echo in my own mind, is the subject matter can wander from the intended. Be more reflective. This is just such an occasion, this piece was intended to be a review of a wonderful set of cards I received from Kickarse Cards. It began with an attempt to weave together the worlds of boxing and cards, and wandered all to enthusiastically down a thought cul-de-sac. I do hope you’ve got this far.

The cards are fantastic, 52 playing cards, each one featuring an artistic depiction of one of boxing’s greatest icons. From Tommy Hearns to Jake LaMotta, Tyson to Louis, Willie Pep to Lucia Rijker. Made to a high standard, the cards would be a great gift for a boxing fan who perhaps dabbles in Poker. Only error I’ve spotted is the reference to Joe Lewis, which will annoy the ardent fan, but it is only featured on the index and not the cards themselves so will not impose itself on your enjoyment.

Arguments will rage about those omitted from the 52, with Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa your two Jokers, which brought a smile.

Available on line, my thanks to the folks at Kickarse Cards for the review set, which now further furnish the man-cave from which I write. The artwork featured can be applied to a range of different products, not just cards, but it is the cards, in which so many heroes are captured together, that delivers an immediate sense of holding a collection.

More specific details about the cards are featured below. I’d encourage you to check them out.


The modern sport of boxing has it roots back in 16th century prize fighting, but competitive hand-to-hand combat goes back to 1500 BCE. Following a recent rejuvenation in the sport, Kickarse cards created a collection of printed poker cards that really pack a punch! Beautifully designed, with unique illustrations of some of the greatest boxers to grace the square circle over the last century.

What inspired us?

Do you remember the famous Mayweather vs McGregor boxing spectacle in the summer of 2017? We certainly do! Debating this fight inspired us to form Kickarse. Originally, the conversation led us to come up with the idea to produce a commemorative deck of cards to co-inside with what was being touted as the most expensive matchup in the history of the sport. From the outset, we knew that the cards should be something special, a collector’s piece that would be treasured. To fulfil this vision, we started to produce unique illustrations, showcasing some of history’s greatest boxers plus an additional card with an illustration of McGregor on it.

The design processes

As the project gathered pace and more of the cards were being printed off and hung on the studio wall for inspection, a decision was made to make the deck more appealing to the boxing purest. It was at this point that McGregor was dropped from the pack and was replaced by Evander Holyfield – the only boxer in the world to date that has won the undisputed championship in two weight classes!

Print quantity and quality

· 900 decks have been printed (standard pack).

· Printed in the UK by Ivory.

· Printed on 340um card with a smooth plastic coating for a perfect finish

· Cello banding with a gold tear strip.

· Packaged in a branded tuck box. 52 world class boxers, 2 jokers and 2 additional information cards all with beautifully designed custom illustrations.

Other information

Did you know you can also purchase merchandise of the card illustrations from our shop in Redbubble, containing a wide selection. Take your pick from t-shirts and phone cases, down to mugs and posters.

All the team are really happy with the results of the project so far and we are now offering 15% OFF for 2 or more mugs. So, head on over and get your favourite boxing great mug today! https://www.redbubble.com/people/kickarse/shop

If visitors to our website sign up to our newsletter they can also receive 10% off a pack of cards via our ebay store. https://kickarsecards.com/


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