Over the decades, the sport of Boxing has shown us a diverse range of characters – from the good guys to the bad guys, from the controversial to the eccentric.
The 60’s brought us characters like the great Muhammad Ali – widely loved yet perhaps equally controversial. Whilst some of the standout personalities in the 90’s were the likes of Chris Eubank Sr. and ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed.
Some were better known for their performances inside the ring, some for their antics outside of the ring, whilst many managed to maintain a good balance of the two. Regardless of how they achieved it, one common trait of these often larger than life characters was the ability to generate interest in their fights and sell tickets.
Such a diverse range of characters in one sport has resulted in rivalries that will never be forgotten in the boxing world, and perhaps more importantly at the time, these rivalries resulted in fight build-ups that ensured the tickets were flying off the shelves.
One key aspect of any of these rivalries was what is commonly known as ‘trash talk’. We remember the bitter rivalry between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier – trash talk and insults were plentiful. These two fighters went on to fight 3 times in fights that are still remembered now and will be for years to come.
Fast forward 40+ years and a more recent example would be the dramatic, malice-filled build-up to the non-title Heavyweight fight between former Cruiserweight and Heavyweight champion David Haye and the then reigning Cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew.
Both fighters walked away from the fight with a significant pay check and arguably as importantly, with the full respect of the boxing world.
There is arguably a clear correlation between trash talk and success, with the more dramatic build-ups often leading to the more publicised, and ultimately more successful fights.
This does however beg the question of whether or not trash talk is needed to become a big star in the sport. There is an old saying “Nice guys finish last” by which many boxers seem to conduct themselves to build their reputations and ultimately build a successful career.
However, trash talking and drama is not always necessary, as has been demonstrated multiple times by Hull’s very own Olympic Gold Medallist Luke Campbell. If anything, Campbell could perhaps be forgiven for getting caught up in his own hype and allowing his ego to take over – after all he was one of Britain’s most successful amateur boxers ever.
We haven’t seen such a thing from Campbell, all we have seen is a humble young man putting the work in to achieve his dream, gracious in both victory and defeat. And here he is, fresh after a world title eliminator victory, against a former world champion at that, in just his 18th professional fight.
His recent fight against former WBA champion Darleys Perez of Colombia epitomises what hard work and dedication alone can do, without the need for heroes and villains.
Campbell has achieved everything by allowing only his fists to do the talking, at which point he can look back and be content in knowing that he has achieved everything thus far using the boxing skills he was gifted with, and more importantly, the thousands of hours of training he has put his body and mind through.
And above all, he has remained the same humble young man who captured the hearts of Hull and Great Britain when he won the Olympic Gold Medal in 2012. Try telling Luke that nice guys finish last.
Article by Owen Hammond