Sports correspondant & historian
While Sideline Sid had been an avid boxing fan for most of his life – he won’t be buying the Pay Per View coverage of the Shane Cameron verses Monty Barrett fight on Sky on Thursday evening.
In recent times boxing has become just another sport taken over by the entrepreneurs, who see professional boxing contests as ‘supposed’ entertainment, rather than the matching of two evenly matched opponents with the result in doubt until the judge’s decision.
In my opinion, the decline in this country started about a decade ago with the televised Fight for Life each year, where it the cameras often spent more time on the (so-called) celebrity’s than on the boxing.
While the main event on Thursday is a legitimate contest, it is the undercard that makes a joke of the event.
Two models, with one inviting the public to choose what bikini she will fight in, and a disgraced New Zealand cricket player, with the promoters wanting us to believe that they are genuine boxing bouts.
Make no mistake - the so-called high profile promoters that are pushing the Cameron v Barrett event are only involved for the money. It is almost getting back to the old time Circus freak shows, which lived on the misery of other human beings, such as the bearded women etc.
Boxing in New Zealand was founded upon the amateur game where there is little fanfare.
Next Saturday night some of the best grassroots boxers in the country will be in Tauranga for the Central North Island Championships at the QE2 Youth Centre.
There will be no histrionics on display, just contingents of young boxers from throughout the North Island, who want to put a CNI title into their record book. One group that will make the long journey to the Western Bay in search of triumph typifies the attitude that prevailed in the country in the 1950’s and 60’s.
The boxers from the East Coast of the North Island receive little fanfare. With gyms in such as Hicks Bay, Tikitiki and Ruatoria, the young boxers from the East Coast continually travel the country in search of bouts.
There are none of the big town bells and whistles on the Coast, but just a dedicated group of supporters, who ensure that their youngsters can compete on equal terms with their city and big town opponents.
The parents, grand parents and extended families, find the money to put in place the boxing gyms, where their youngsters learn what has often been called the sweet science.
There is nothing flash about the East Coast boxing gyms, where you will find coaches that want to make their boxers the best that the can be. The supporters also play a big role in the development of the young male and female boxers, who are forced to travel for hours just to get to tournaments.
A visit to the QE2 on Saturday will provide an outstanding view of grassroots boxing in the country, with not a celebrity in sight.
Seeya at the Game.