A personal point of view, one nobody is required to share, is that David Lloyd is in danger of disappearing up his intestinal tract

COMMENTARY

News came this week of a death in the boxing family, the demise in New York of an old reprobate, Al Braverman, who once called upon a stricken charge to explain why he was crawling on the canvas. "What are you, a fighter or a snake?" Braverman bellowed.

Braverman's luckless students included Chuck Wepner, a heavyweight known otherwise as the Bayonne Bleeder, who missed going the distance with Muhammad Ali by 19 seconds, done in by the exhaustion of his effort as much as by the great man's punches.

Ali, as was his custom with bums, had not even bothered to take Wepner lightly. He trained in the first 13 rounds and fought in the last two. Braverman took the fight, saying, "The whole world is a mismatch," and Ali prepared accordingly.

The tricks of motivation Braverman employed that night included thrusting ice cubes down the front of Wepner's shorts, yanking at his pubic hair, slapping his battered face and obscene accusations of cowardice. Unimpressed by the suggestion that Wepner was in urgent need of facial surgery, Braverman growled, "Don't worry about the guy, he likes getting cut."

Hearing that an accident had caused the loss of my lower right arm Braverman called me in hospital, an embarrassing experience because, for pretty obvious reasons, I had no affinity with him. "I know how you feel," he said. "I got this diabetes and every three months they take a toe."

Many years ago I asked Braverman how he would deal with Joe Bugner who might have made a bigger mark in the heavyweight division but for pacifist tendencies. "I'd insult him," Braverman said. "Call him a fairy, a junkyard dog, a kyootle [whatever that is]. I'd tell Bugner that he is a disgrace to humanity. It's the only way with those kind of fighters.'

A similar approach was adopted by a British trainer, Freddie Hill, when recruited to work the corner with Bugner's manager of record, Andy Smith. "You big Hungarian poof," was the mildest epithet Hill employed in an attempt to induce more aggressive activity. Smith was appalled. "I won't have you speaking to Joseph like that," he said. "Leave the ring."

You could say that Braverman was a motivator of sorts, so at the the risk of appearing to use his demise as a convenience I move quickly to the fact that England's cricketers are due for an audience this weekend with the Lions coaches, Ian McGeechan and Jim Telfer.

Presumably, McGeechan and Telfer have been called in by England's coach, David Lloyd, in an attempt to absorb the spirit that was central to the success of the Lions in South Africa. What worked for them can work for us is unquestionably the basis of his thinking.

A personal point of view, one nobody is required to share, is that Lloyd is in danger of disappearing up his intestinal tract. The buzz word in team sports today is "bonding". Coaches try every device imaginable, and some unimaginable, to stoke hotter and hotter fires in their players. They believe that the only way to get professionals to practise and play at a proper level of intensity is to bang a drum loudly and constantly.

But where is the pride in an athlete who needs that sort of stimulation? And the character? The only sure way to get a team player to perform at or near his peak is to surround him with good players and a good coach and a good organisation that will pay him for his trouble. The ability and attitude are there, formed, for the management to know what to do with, not to inhibit.

In any case, what has motivation got to do with the highly personal chore of facing up to short-pitched bowling or dealing with the wiles of Shane Warne? Cricket is a team game but much of the responsibility is individual. One thought is that great England cricketers from the past would have walked out on the stirring tapes Lloyd apparently insists on playing.

Alf Ramsey argued that selection for the national team should be enough motivation. When Bill Shankly was asked how he had felt in Scotland's dressing-room before turning out against England he said, "I could hear that wee lion on our shirts telling us to sort out these English bastards."

Shortly before Liverpool met Leicester in an FA Cup semi-final replay brought about by Peter Shilton's brilliant goalkeeping, Shankly appeared suddenly at the door of their dressing-room. "Imagine," he said, "that you are being battered by George Foreman when the lights go out. You've got to do it all over again. That's how Leicester are feeling." It was all the motivation Liverpool needed.

News
Disruption at Waterloo after a person was hit by a train
newsCancellations and disrupted service after person hit by train
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The almost deserted Liverpool Echo Arena on Monday
tvCan X Factor last in the face of plummeting numbers auditioning
News
Kirsty Bertarelli is launching a singing career with an album of songs detailing her observations of “real life”
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence