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Article: HOOKED



On February 25th 1989 Mike Tyson faced the legendary British doyen of boxing - Frank Bruno, at the Hilton Hotel, Las Vegas - the entertainment capital of the world. This was an occasion of magnitude beyond anything I’d experienced as a 7-year old. It was the first time that I was allowed to stay up past 9pm - thanks Dad. 


This was my first brush with two grown men battling to overpower the other. This was a global event of heavyweight show business, punctuated by glamour, athletes of mythical prowess and visceral magnetism. Seeing it as I remember it, the only thing that could take my eyes off the screen was a momentary glance to check on my father, who’s feverish excitement was being expressed non-verbally, like an animated chimpanzee.

The energy in the first round was astounding. Both fighters went for each other from the bell, with Bruno knocked to one knee within 11 seconds. The ferocity of Mike Tyson and the carnal aggression between the two fighters was amplified by the commentator’s emotion - this was how exciting a boxing fight could be. 


Fast forward 12 years and I found myself in Manchester, where I’d taken a place for university. A friend mentioned they’d found a boxing gym where they were attending training and I remember the hairs on the back of my neck stood up - the excitement of that night in 1989 came straight back to me. I had dreamt of boxing from time to time over the 12 years since that world title fight, but never been able to act on my urge to experiment. The next day my friend and I were at Champ’s Camp in Mosside, Manchester. It was here that I encountered the intensity of the sport - the heart-thumping, lunge-busting effort required to endure a 3-minute round. Rest a minute. Go again! 

Champs Camp wasn’t the Hilton Hotel and Manchester wasn’t Vegas, but the thrill of throwing punches as a maxim for my own fight-night one day, was enough to get me hooked. 

There was no hiding from the effort in this individual sport. It was so expressive, it was so liberating, it was so real. 

Inspired by the glamour of the occasion, excited by the thrill of the fight and enthralled by the intensity of effort my boxing journey had just begun. 


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