Usyk the Ukrainian hero needs no titles

“If there’s one thing I know, it’s never to mess with Mother Nature, mother-in-laws and mother freaking Ukrainians.”

Skinny Pete, The Italian Job, 2003

Sport and politics are not meant to trespass on to each other’s figurative lawns. Far too frequently, they do. From the cricket fields of apartheid South Africa in the 1970s, the American boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics through to the present day  – a swirl of state sponsored doping, kneeling line backers and the awarding of football World Cups on the basis of stuffed manila envelopes rather than full stadiums. The politicising of sport is neither a new nor uncommon phenomenon. They are perennially entwined.

Boxing is littered with examples, from the persecution of Jack Johnson a century ago to the symbolism of Joe Louis’ rematch with Germany’s Max Schmeling in 1938, it is a rich and luminous seam. Fighters possess power in their actions and their opinions that can reach far beyond the roped square in which they ply their trade and politicians are always eager to manipulate the image or popularism of their pugilistic contemporaries. Continue reading “Usyk the Ukrainian hero needs no titles”

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Three brothers and the Golden Apple

My affection for fighters is often forged on the most obscure and obtuse of foundations and the Bulgarian heavyweight Kubrat Pulev is a recent addition to this rarefied collection. Perhaps it is merely his under dog status that creates the appeal, I’m often drawn to the man with the odds against him. However, most of all I think it was probably just the suit and the look he gave the interpreter when he relayed to the waiting press that Pulev would find the fight “terrifying”.  Continue reading “Three brothers and the Golden Apple”

Guest: From boos to boohoo

Union Jack FansRegulars will notice this site has become dormant of late, a case of poor timing given the buoyancy of the sport. In a bid to maintain currency and to showcase a broader range of opinion pieces I invited submissions from those contemporaries for whom I have respect and who I believed would provide entertaining and challenging copy for the growing readership. The first of these Guest pieces is from Andrew Mullinder, taking up the thorny and topical issue of booing National Anthems. 
Continue reading “Guest: From boos to boohoo”

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