Frank Warren column: Where have all the black boxers gone? Other sports offer rewards without risk

EXCLUSIVE: Where is boxing's Didier Drogba or Yaya Touré?

Click to follow
The Independent Online

I am very concerned about the diminishing number of black youngsters coming into boxing.

It is becoming much more of a middle-class sport and proportionately it attracts many more white kids than from the ethnic minorities these days.

We seem to be following a similar trend to the United States, where far fewer men of Afro-Caribbean heritage are pulling on the gloves. Instead they are lured into less hazardous yet often equally rewarding pursuits like basketball and American football.

Here it’s football, rugby and athletics which are the main attractions, especially as there is now big money to be earned in these sports.

I also find it surprising that while in the past Africa has produced outstanding world champions, among them Azumah Nelson, Hogan Kid Bassey, Dick Tiger and Lotte Mwale, this has tailed off.

And why has Africa, where boxing has always been a major sport, never unearthed a world heavyweight champion?

Where is boxing’s Didier Drogba or Yaya Touré?

 

Fighting the Klitschkos is like hitting a Berlin wall

It is surely no coincidence that as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world of boxing is witnessing the rise of the heavy mob from eastern Europe.

In Hamburg on Saturday night a world heavyweight championship will be contested by a Ukrainian and a Bulgarian. It shows the way boxing has been heading since the Iron Curtain was lifted.

A division that was once almost the exclusive domain of big Americans has been dominated for almost two decades by even bigger men from what used to be the Soviet bloc – principally the giant Klitschko brothers.

With big brother Vitali,  the former WBC champion, having retired to tread the even more treacherous political ring as mayor of his home town Kiev, Wladimir Klitschko makes his 17th successive defence against the undefeated Kubrat Pulev. It should be a relatively comfortable night for Wladimir.

Klitschko.jpg
Wladimir Klitschko pictured training this week

At 38 he is at that dangerous age when any bout could be a fight too far. But like Floyd Mayweather Jnr, another who matured in middle age, he keeps himself in marvellous nick.

Like most eastern Europeans he’s a product of the old Soviet system and the correct way they box. He shrewdly uses all his physical attributes, notably his height and jab, but like his brother he’s never been able to master fighting inside. Which is why Dereck Chisora gave Vitali a lot of problems.

I have always been an admirer of the dignified Klitschkos, true gentlemen and scholars. Both are multi-lingual and hold doctorates in sports science and philosophy.

Americans may dismiss them as robotic ringers for Rocky foe Ivan Drago, but for ages now the US haven’t had anyone better. Indeed, currently they’ve hardly had anyone at all apart from Deontay Wilder, a fearsome hitter who has yet to be properly tested.

I hope Wlad the Impaler wins this one, and also his next bout because after that he must defend his WBO belt against the winner of the upcoming ExCel domestic dust-up between Chisora and Tyson Fury on 29 November.

Who knows, by then the man mountain K2 might be ready to be conquered.

The Alien falls back to earth

So, The Alien is human after all.

And after finally being brought down to earth by The Krusher, Russian Sergey Kovalev, yet another beast from the East, Bernard Hopkins leaves us with what may be his parting shot.  “Fans want to see one title, one belt,” he said, declaring that unification is now the name of the game.

Well up, to a point. It is true that fans always knew who the champions were in times when there was just one title instead of the current alphabet maze, but that often led to good fighters being frozen out of title shots. Charley Burley, arguably the greatest fighter never to win a world and who even the incomparable Sugar Ray Robinson chose to avoid, is just one example.

These days those from the ‘who needs him’ brigade would certainly get a crack at one belt or another, of which I accept there are too many. Two would be about right, and so much easier to unify.

But come on, football has gone down the same complex route with a multitude of clubs going into Europe from domestic competitions whereas it used to be just a couple. Of course, it is all driven by television, and to generate income, just as it is in boxing.

Boxnation_1.jpg

 

Subscribe to BoxNation at www.boxnation.com

Comments