In 1984. the British Medical .-\ssociation passed a resolution organising a campaign to influence public opinion to abolish boxing. lt vvas a dangerous sport: it must be banned.
This view is still current policv: ‘Kids should knovs boxing can damage their health. and vs e vs ill continue to push for its abolition'. savs l’amela 'l avlor of the BN1.-\.
Btit the past tvso vears has seen a surge of interest in the sport. culminating in Barrv .\lc( iuigan‘s historic \sot‘ld feathervs‘eight title fight in london last summer. .-\n incredible 1‘) million people watched that fight in Britain alone. Bv comparison. last season‘s ‘classic~ l5:\ (‘up l‘inal bctvseen .‘vlanchester l'nited and l€verton attracted barelv l 1 million. and the BB(”s much disputed live cov erage of league football matches averages less than seven million vievsers,
'l'here are several boxing films in the making. and Channel J. transmit a programme on boxing in l lalifax as part of their lift'l't'llf/I Hin series in .‘vlav. 'l‘he enormous success of Roe/xv ll ' is evidence that Stallone's heavvvs'eight has a less rounds _vet to go before the public demand his rctiral.
Neither is interest confined to the screen. ‘l'he number of licensed boxers in Britain has trebled to ble in l: vears. Scotland has 42 licensed boxers. tip five from last scar. And
vs‘hile ( ilasgovs hosted 3A contests in
‘gentlemen. not louts‘ 1985. over 3U are planned for l‘LSb. a complete turnaround from the earl_v seventies vs'hen Scotland had no boxing contestsfor four vears.
'l‘his revival has much to do vs ith unemplov merit and the dole. Btit boxing has also taken a hard look at its image and decided to clean tip or be svvcpt avs‘av. 'l'ommv ( iilmour. one of ( ilasgovs”s top managers. sees the change in both the boxers and the managers‘ attitudes: ‘Boxing has
10 lhcl ist ll leb o.\lar
Public interest in boxing is being reavv'akened
despite continuing pressure to abolish it. As
Richard Klein finds out voting men like Alex
Dickson (belovs') regard it as an honourable profession.
become a respectable business. and boxers hav e had to be more tiiarkctable. .lim \Vatt is a good example. l‘his is no longer a cottage industrv .'
(iilmour felt the recent boom was attributable partlv to.lim \Vatt‘s image. partlv as a result of_voung bo_vs coming into training g_vms to get fit: "l'hc g_vm is a substitute for the south clubs and bo_v's guilds of the 5f ls and (ills, lihe lads can become friendlv with the rising stars. btit also learn front theirdisciplirie.'
.I\rthur .‘vlelrose. amateur trainer at Morrison‘s ( ivm in ( ilasgovs . vvas once a useful amateur boxer. \ovs he acts as a guide and coach to the do/eri or so boss that regularlv use the gv m, l lc has seen an increase in the numbers using the facilities: lit the last six months. over _‘vtlbo_vs have come here to find out about the game. I like to think I turn bovs into gentlemen. not Iouts. l-itness. cleanliness and discipline are priorities boxing is the last thing thev do.‘ ( iilmotir added that the Scottish scene vvould be more healthy once there was someone to hero-vsorship again. follovsirig \Vatt‘s defeat iti 19M.
that should not take long. 'l'he lightvveight division is bu//ing at
present. vs ith three Scots in the top ten. l'herc are others: l’at Clinton. a higth rated fl_vvs‘eight; Brian l lolnies. \o l: tn the Bantam Division: Davie Adams. fifth in the feathervseights; Stev e Kermit. a promising light vs eltervs eight. and Paul Dovs nie. another top lightvs'eight.
l’oiscd to take advantage of his tremendouspunchingpovsei' is (ilasgovs's Steve Bovle vs hose final eliminator fight (against \Vor'cestei”s
"l'N'l‘ in his fists‘
Mikes Baker) for a crack a'. the British lightvseight title in .'\la_v . takes place in front ofS'l'V‘s cameras at the .-‘\lban_v l lotcl next .‘vloiidav.
Reptitedlv the hardest Scottish puncher for 25 vears. Bov les record is impressive l‘iifteen vs'ins in lﬁ fights. unbeaten in tvso vears arid vvith a deserved reputation as a knock-out specialist. he itistifies his British .\'o 4 ratirtg. Btit will he vs'in'.’ Scottish Boxing Board of ( 'ontrol‘s (ierrv \Voolard has no doubts: ‘lltivlc‘ carries lNl iii his fists. l le can dcliv er the vital knock—out punch that everv potential champ needs to have.‘
(iilmour. his manager. agrees:
‘Steve is a rough handful, He is a clean-living lad outside the ring. btit he has no friends inside that ring. l le is the first Scot to have a chance at the title since Jun \Vatt.‘
'l'hree ratings belovs Bov |e is .>\lex Dickson. a handsotiic. articulate I} sear-old. vs ith a .lames Dean haircut d_ved of course and a penchant for soul music and fashion. Dickson is trained bv Bobbv Neil. possiblv Britain's top coach. and the general feeling is he is potentiallv better than Bov lc. :\lreadv he has vsori all ten bouts of his sear—long professional career. Dickson prides himself as a boxer. not a lighter: 'Boxing is like chess. l like to think about hovv l fight. vsorkingoiit counter—puriches and dravs mg someone otit. .ltist going in and throvs ing punches gets vou novsher'e.‘
Boxers are generallv coneciv ed as stupid \th did Dickson. apparentlv intelligent.ch irivolved'.".\l_v dad gave me gloves vs hen l vsas six or seven. and I started boxing m_v brother and sister m_v sister usiiallv vsonl \ovs I do it because I .lrcam of vsinning titles and a l onsdalc belt. I am a tiiiicvsc‘i ved toolniaker lcould be stuck in a factors for ten hours. Btit that is not for me. l‘uriiiiig pro vsas the right thing for me to do. l vvtll make monev about iftitiper fight and l want people to look up to me.‘
l le dismisses the medical \‘.ttl'ltl‘S tiualms about the sport vs ith disarming self confidence: ‘I aim to hurt more than I get hurt. lvson‘t get m_v lace messed upf
(ilasgovs' has been the v enue for mans of Dickson‘s fights. often promoted bs .-\lex .‘vlorrison. vv lio runs his ovs n g_v m above his haulage
‘_vou cannae vv'hack it~
compariv premises in the (iallovsgatc. .v\n exheavvvsight champion at 4.? t for is three? i. .‘vlorrison has started puttiiigon boxing shovss at the l’la/a ballroom. lle intends to promote orieshovs per month: ' l'here has alvsavs been svsanks contests at the ,-\lbaiiv Hotel at Lllla head. lvsani to take boxing back to the man on the street.~
llcbellescslto\ingisncvs popularitv is linked vvith the iiionev ll brings in; lights are vsoi‘tli L5H. vsiii or lose. ( Me of iiiv lads hasa iob. a vsifc and kids. But he lights because he vsantsagoodstaiidardof living, and boxing vs ill give it to hirii.‘
'l'hc BM;\ has alvsavs recognised it faces an uphill l'attle to ban the sport. Boxing'snevv rfouiidappeal vs'on't make their task anv easier. especiallv vs ith voting boxers like Dickson vs ho see the revs aids to be had. lt is not ltlst that. hovs ever: mans voting men iii the game love the sport, listen to Steve Kc'r'iiiiii: ‘Some of ms matesoii the dole tr_v it for the monev . btit I do it for the love of it. You cannae vs hack it.'
It vvill be tough going for ever'voiic.
l'riited .-\rtists (Scotland) l hcatre ('ompanv are at present touring a pla_v b_v‘ l’etei .»\rnott about the life of Benns l._v nch: Hie Hover lien/iv /.\'II(‘/I tsee lhcatre listings).