Britain has had a long proud tradition of boxers stretching back to the very origins of the sport, this is why it is still home to the best in boxing
I’m quite shocked that anyone needs this proving to them. It is entirely manifest and self-evident, one may as well ask if birds have feathers or whether the Pope owns a balcony or not. Wasting time questioning the validity of the oft made assertion that Britain is indeed the home to the best boxers is something I can only presume has transpired because there’s nothing on television, or that the internet is down again. It’s ridiculous.
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However since my editor insists, and some of you might be blindly supportive of your own nation’s list of boxers, I shall now clearly and concisely lay out precisely why one would have to be stark raving mad with their underpants on their head to be of the belief that Britain isn’t the home of the best boxers. I shall do so by drawing on examples of British boxing at its finest, instances of its true greatness and superiority, and I won’t mention the Tyson Fury Dereck Chisora fight even once.
Now I could laud it over you lesser-boxer supporting fools, with a chronological list of the best moments in British heavyweight boxing, or neatly list the victories (with scores and stats) that litter the ranks of the British boxing fraternity, but I fear neither of these would be sufficient to properly underscore how silly the entire question is. So I shall instead merely waft four of British boxing’s best proponents under your nose so you wake up from your stupor of mistaken belief.
Henry Cooper is one of British boxing’s greats. He was big in the seventies, which means he’s probably due for arrest at any moment, and his range of professional skills knew no bounds as his able footwork took him easily from being a ‘name’ at Lloyd’s of London to being a co-founder of the Anti-Nazi League, his nifty right jab at acting in the 1975 film “Royal Flash” helping him secure his place in history.
But it’ll be one thing that Henry Cooper, British boxing champion, will be remembered for and one thing alone amongst all his other stunning successes, and that, that is Brut 33. This Faberge created cologne for men featured Mr. Cooper in its adverts and is now legendary because of his golden touch. His catch phrase of “Splash it all over” still common on the lips of those that grew up with this masterpiece of media. Here is an example of the man in action, joined, would you believe, by football and perm legend Kevin Keegan.
Frank Bruno is the golden boy of British boxing having developed a catchphrase well ahead of the field simply by dint of an inability to believe the media have more than one boxing commentator. So frequent were his post-bout interviews with the legendary Harry Carpenter our Frank came to believe everyone was called Harry (pronounced ‘arry in Frank’s case) and “Y’know what I mean, ‘Arry?” was said more often than prayers at the height of his fame.
But Frank wasn’t limited to mere subtle wordplay and comedic bonhomie with darlings of the media set, oh no, he was so much more than that. Bruno’s ability to strut the boards in drag at a theatre’s pantomime (colonials won’t believe anything I say about panto, look it up) nearly equaling his awe inspiring cover version of Eye Of The Tiger that reached a dazzling No. 28 in the charts. Here we see Frank being both impersonated by Lenny Henry and then featuring himself at the height of his fame.
From his trademark lisp and faux upper-class accent this giant amongst British boxers has constantly pushed the envelope steadily developing into the supreme athlete we know and love. Often seen sporting a monocle, jodhpurs, a bowler hat and riding boots, the silver tipped cane might have appeared just an affectation when carried by a lesser man, not so for our Chris. From best dressed man (1991-93) to proud Peterbilt 379 truck cab driver, to Ambassador for GamCare, Mr. Eubank has done it all.
Arrested for anti-war protesting by driving in slow circles around Parliament Square, then for driving slowly through Whitehall, and then again for parking his seven tonne truck outside Downing Street, he remains an outspoken critic of high speed travel. Not that this ever stopped him leaping the ropes before a bout, showmanship that earned him many admirers including some who may have copied him, something to which you can now see Chris explain. (Do not adjust your sound settings, he really sounds like that).
One only needs to say that Nigel Benn is now an ordained minister to know instantly that he belongs here amongst this hallowed list of British boxing greats. His husky graveled speech impediment and facial hair fetish powering him into the stratosphere of fame, Nigel Benn was a sublime genius of the unveiled threat and exuding menace that made him such a great loss to the British overseas diplomatic service or possibly gangsters in the Netherlands.
But it was his consummate ease with the media, possibly as a result of his service in the British army in the rather jaunty conditions of Northern Ireland, for which he will be known. His quick wit and ready supply of one liners guaranteed to raise the roof on any occasion. Take for instance this rather bizarre piece of footage that shows him signing the contract for a bout live on television, a sportsman at his very best. You also get to see Chris Eubank again. (Do not adjust your sound settings, they both really sound like that).
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Britain is home to the best boxers…now…can anyone tell me where my lithium is?