Yes I know this is a football site, and an Arsenal football site at that, so what an earth am I doing writing about boxing?
Well (tenuous link alert…) on Saturday, instead of finding somewhere to watch BT Sprot spoil another Arsenal away game with their cretinous commentary, I thought I’d avoid the match altogether. You may recall my previous article in which I apologized for bringing about the defeat to the Red Drivels of Manchester by not appeasing the Gods of Football.
This time I managed to avoid finding out the score until I was texted by my stepson as I explored the rather fine Gothic exhibition at the British Library. Going to exhibitions is the thought of thing intellectuals like what I and Tony is do on weekends without football after all. [I say what an extraordinarily bizarre sentence, Tony]
So there I was, reading the infamous ‘Dear Boss’ letter that gave the world the name ‘Jack the Ripper’ in 1888 when young Curtis texted ‘1-0 Welbeck’. I allowed myself a silent leap of good cheer and a fist pump that may have unnerved people nearby given that I was surrounded by images of ghouls, vampires and a host of other manifestations from gothic fiction.
Anyway, to the point of the post…
Later that evening myself and my good lady wound our way to Bethnal Green, deep in the ‘eart of the East End me old china. Taking our lives in our ‘ands we strode through the quaint narrow back streets to emerge outside York Hall, an imposing early twentieth century edifice on Old Ford Road.
We mingled with the geezers outside and picked up the tickets that had been left for us at the door. Hands stamped with ‘GB’ (for ‘Good blokes’ presumably..) we were in. Soon afterwards we tracked down the purpose for the visit; our friend (and former undergraduate student of mine) Bill.
Bill’s dad (or ‘old man’ if you prefer) had a fighter on the bill that evening, the gloriously named Hassan the Afghan Lion. We sat and stood and sat and clapped and cheered a number of middleweight and super middleweight bouts, each lasting 4-6 rounds, and saw a few boxers hit the canvas.
It was very ‘up close and personal’ and the crowd had their favorites, usually local lads. York Hall has a long tradition as a boxing venue and who knows we might have seen a future Lonsdale Belt winner on the card that night. The atmosphere was great, very welcoming, very mixed in terms of races, creeds, genders and ages.
There was no trouble (all the fighting was in the ring) and there was plenty of respect shown to all the fighters and their teams of seconds. What a refreshing change from football I thought. Here deep in West Ham territory I saw no animosity to anyone that wasn’t local, or who supported a rival boxer.
There was passion in abundance, real support and warm applause and when it all ended we were helpfully pointed on our way to the tube by one of the meanest looking blokes I’ve ever encountered. Even two blokes that obstructed Em’s view had the presence of mind the apologise when they realised their error (or at least when she pointed it out!)
As for Hassan he triumphed again in what was his second fight. Undefeated in both he looked as strong as his adopted nickname suggests. Poor power to his fists!
Boxing might be my new non-league football. [OK I’ll go and watch Corby Town on my own then – Tony]
The Christmas books
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal
Some other sites from the Untold team (there is a full list on the home page)
- How the media always knocks Arsenal, but ignores England’s failures.
- Left has never been stronger at Arsenal FC!
- The seven main things that are wrong with football in England
- 2022-23 WSL Arsenal v Spurs – Match Preview – part 2 comments from the manager and team news
- 2022-23 WSL Arsenal v Spurs – Match Preview – part 1 the head to head record and comments on Spurs summer signings