Blue Collar Anger

By Ben Thomsett on September 2, 2018
Blue Collar Anger
Joel is back at home and he’s due to see a concussion specialist. (New Zealand Herald)

You thought you had fists of steel and could dance like a butterfly in front of your mates. Good clean fun. No, my friend, you were wrong…

The phone beeped. It was an early Saturday morning. The kind of early that I see frequently but not in a way that makes good and clear communication a likelihood. It beeped again. Then again. “Jesus,” I thought, “someone is still drunk or they’re having a meltdown and I’m the poor sap who’s the emotional punch bag.” I checked the screen and prayed whatever was incoming wasn’t strange and/or terrible news. It was Anthony Joshua. He wasn’t happy.

The crux of the next ten minutes was that—during our exchange—Anthony was upset I’d referred to him in an article as ‘The Housewives choice.’ And he didn’t like me picking up on his retweeting a mocking picture of the smashed up face of Paul Butlin; a face smashed in at the hands of one Anthony Joshua. He was simmering beneath the presses on his telephone screen, I could tell, but he was polite and he simply wanted to put the record straight. He regained composure towards the end of his ninth message and said he looked forward to reading more. We both knew that was a lie, but I took it at the time as a compliment. I left the interaction feeling that AJ was a decent guy who did a dangerous thing for a living, and was doing it well. The issue wasn’t his shaming Paul Butlin, it was that boxing is a dangerous sport and he was just pointing out to the world what could happen as a result of being punched in the face too many times.

Somewhere in New Zealand a man called Joel Rea knows all about health and boxing. This knowledge came as a shock to him. You see, Joel took part in a ‘Blue Collar’ boxing event on August the 25th in Auckland and was promptly knocked out within eight seconds by an opponent some are saying weighed in the region of 50 lbs. heavier than him. According to the New Zealand Herald, his wife says his future health is “at a crossroads.” Joel is back at home and he’s due to see a concussion specialist—a person who has probably already watched the YouTube video of Joel’s KO titled “Brutal KO” while shaking their head in disgust. Oh, and wait till you disclose that brain injury you apparently had as a kid which you didn’t tell the event organizers about….

Imagine you’ve never boxed before. For a few weeks you go to work, come home, go to a boxing gym and train like you inherited the ghost of Earnie Shavers’ right hook. Then, one glorious night, you step into the ring, arms aloft, feeling like you and Ali are kindred spirits. Next thing, you wake up on a stretcher asking yourself how it happened so fast. I mean, you thought you had fists of steel and could dance like a butterfly in front of your mates. Good clean fun. No, my friend, you were wrong. You signed up to a largely unregulated corporate phenomenon and you wanted to believe that they had your safety at heart. The rest would be easy, just like on TV.

Hopefully Joel will recover fully. He’s home anyhow. Maybe New Zealand will have a long, hard look at the way in which white/blue collar boxing is run? I hope so. For now, Joel’s wife says he’s losing his temper more often. Not like AJ.

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BRUTAL KO: Sese Tohi vs Joel Rea - Peach Boxing's Trading Punches | ABA Stadium 25Aug18



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  1. Kid Blast 08:22am, 09/02/2018

    This is about the dark side of boxing that so many boxing observers don’t like to acknowledge. But it’s out there in spades.

    Jermain Taylor fills the bill and unless Broner heeds the warnings, he might also.

    Only the top guys leave boxing with more than they brought in.

  2. Kid Blast 06:30am, 09/02/2018

    Good stuff

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