By Terence Dooley
"You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen. When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person died for no reason." - Ernest Hemingway
British boxing lost a distinct, persistent, unique and blunt voice after news broke that Glyn Leach, the owner and editor of Boxing Monthly, has passed away aged 52. It feels as if the winter has impinged on our summer, casting a shadow over the entire domestic scene as we bid adieu to a juggernaut of boxing journalism.
The journalistic choir has also lost one of its last remaining world-class soloists. A voice that was disarmingly gentle in the flesh but as blunt as a hammer when he bashed out one of his monthly editorial missives.
Leach broke into the sport in his 20s, writing for Boxing Weekly then quickly taking up an editorial role, before helping launch Boxing Monthly in 1989. Within three years, the keen angler had reeled in the editor’s spot before eventually taking outright ownership of the popular publication.
This unique position allowed Leach to run the magazine his way. His mantra was: "It is all about the writing”; he encouraged and nursed a plethora of styles, welcoming anyone who had the ability and passion to succeed. A self-taught journalist who learned the ropes on the job, Leach was a true independent who relished the challenge of the sport he loved and had helped shape and define.
As the tributes flood in, the essence of the man will live on. Indeed, his legacy will be written anew every time a Boxing Monthly reader sits down to type out a boxing article. Leach may be dead, but he lives on in our hearts, minds and pens—his encouragement helped give birth to a new wave of writers, who must now rise to the levels he aspired to and attained during his career.
For this writer, it is as bitter a blow as the loss of Dean Powell, who passed away last year, as we have lost yet another boxing man, one of those rare types who went to fights solely to watch the action—woe betide the man or woman who broke Leach’s concentration on his rare ringside forays.
The QPR FC and angling fanatic was always the voice of reason. You could run a news story by him, if it was good he would share your excitement then issue a terse: ‘Get it out there, son’, but if it needed an extra quote or a bit of edge he would always preach caution by pointing out that: ‘It’s better to have the full story than one half of one—it’s not a race’. It was sound advice.
Leach was generous with his time and his attention, he used his magazine to blood new writers whilst making sure that he assembled one of the most varied and experienced teams in the business. This variety gave Boxing Monthly its voice, and the publication shared its owner’s “Iron fist in a velvet glove” approach.
Leach respected a lot of writers. Quite a few of the ones he respected the most worked for him, and that must have been a consistent source of pride for a true boxing aficionado.
During our last conversation, Glyn outlined his future plans and direction for the mag. Far from resting on his laurels, the long-time editor was hungry, fired up and determined to continue to release a quality product in a tough age for print media. The fire still burned, the desire was still there, but now we've lost the man himself and what a huge loss it is for those who knew, respect and cherished his views and work.
As a teenager, I had two ambitions in life, to work in a library and write for Boxing Monthly—Glyn helped me make my dream come true and will always occupy a special place in my heart, mind and boxing soul.
It was always all about the writing, and always will be.
Below is a reflective piece on David Haye versus Dereck Chisora that Glyn wrote for BoxingScene after we named it the boxing event of 2012:
‘From its vulgar and opportunistic conception amidst scenes of mindless ugliness through to the crass commercialism that turned an unlicensed fight — which it wasn't, but who was listening? — into British boxing's biggest and most-talked-about event since the turn of the century, the evening was a PR nightmare long before darkness fell inside a football stadium filled with the kind of faces that the CCTV cameras in the police command room recognised all too well from match days.
‘And then, as if to put the final nail in the coffin of the night that would bring about the end of boxing in Britain as we knew it, it rained — as in really rained. The thousands at Woodstock, the music festival that symbolised the peace and love generation of the 1960s, banded together and chanted for its deluge to stop, but the crowd at sport's black sheep sporting event of 2012 and of every other Olympic year, ignored it, treated idealism with disdain. In comparative terms, this wasn't Woodstock, it was Altamont, the festival that sounded the death knell the hippy dream. All that was missing was the Hells Angels on acid and a body full of stab wounds.
‘The scene had been set by the sensationalist media, and those sensationalists within the sensible media, and the picture was far from pretty, but looking back on that evening today, what do we remember? The end of the world as we knew it? The death of boxing on a Somme-like battlefield patrolled by uncontrollable psychopaths, with anti-boxing's press corps scribbling frantic epitaphs in the blood of a sport as they fulfilled their designer camouflage Kate Adie fantasies?
‘Get real. All boxing ever needs to shut the mouths of these fools is its immortal ability to make a crowd's jaws drop agape and to send those same paying customers home with silly smiles on their faces, the variety that says: "Bloody hell, what a great night out!" And the reason for that was simple. For all that had preceded it, Haye-Chisora made people happy. It wasn't a great fight as such, but it delivered everything that the public — those blood-thirsty moronic savages who are so easily manipulated by intellects both greater and more base — asked of it: a villain, a hero, an impressive knockout, and the cherry-on-the-top of a hug and a handshake at the end to remind the detractors that boxing, beneath all the bullshit and even when it only gets half it right, is the greatest sport in the world and one that will continue to defy expectations long after its critics have faded into obscurity and then been forgotten.
‘You can keep your Mo Farah, I'm with Del Boy.’
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