Advertisement: IBO Boxing

Boxing as a Uniting Force

By Tris Dixon

Boxing is a universal force for good that can unite gender, race, religion and conflicting sides of a delicately-poised political argument.

That comes through loudly and clearly in the latest book by the brilliant Donald McRae.

Fight fans will be aware of McRae’s acclaimed boxing titles from Dark Trade and In Black and White to A Man’s World and his latest offering is no less riveting.

Set in the heart of the Troubles in Ireland, it features the life and times of the great trainer, Gerry Storey (whom, the book says, was sometimes called upon for advice by the likes of Angelo Dundee and Ray Arcel) and it sets the purity and honesty of boxing and hand-to-hand combat against the backdrop of a violent struggle prompted by a grim divide, with car bombs, random shootings and, of course, the now infamous hunger strike.


McRae deals with a traumatic time with tender care. He hides nothing, no drop of blood is left uncovered, but he’s sensitive to the whys, whats and ifs of the struggle. Violent men are seen just as men. Fighters are seen just as men, also. It’s far, far bigger than boxing, yet it is the sport that is the great leveller, the one aspect of their stark lives where everyone is on the same side, where everyone spills the same blood, where there is no pecking order and where agendas don’t make it beyond the front door of a boxing club and certainly nowhere near the ring.

If you were unaware of the sincerity of the Troubles and did not know that McRae was capable of unearthing such tales and writing so elegantly about them you would often think it was a work of fiction; how a boxing coach, meek in demeanour but big in respect, was capable of happily and openly training men on both sides – and with both sides grateful for his help. Some of it causes you to suspend belief, while always making you grateful we have this thing called boxing that can keep those who understand it bound together.

In Sunshine or in Shadow: How Boxing Brought Hope in the Troubles is simply brilliant. You feel touched by every page as you are taken on a crash course of modern Irish history - boxing and political - and the emotion of it all is shockingly magnetic. Whether it’s down to celebrating an underrated hero’s win on a small club show, yearning to taste a morsel of food as he describes the horrendous hunger strikes or shaking your head at the waste of life through the Troubles, the common denominator is the sport of boxing, the respect the fighters have, the respect fighters get, in fact, it’s almost entirely built on that...


Sure, the book’s quiet star Storey might have been able to look after himself and never suffered fools but it was his easy way and kindness that earned him friends on each side of a bloody divide. While other sports had to take cover because they pitted rival teams against one another and politics became involved, boxing, through a small cast of wonderful prizefighters and gentlemen, stood proudly, a sporting flag that Republicans and Protestants were proud to wave.


Boxing is unique in that so often it draws people together. It doesn’t just lift individuals up by their bootstraps, gives them a second chance, a way out or a better shot at being a something or a someone. It can truly unite. There’s a respect in combat that you just don’t get in other sports and if you refuse to understand that then you will never know what it’s like to be involved.

We all want the same thing, skilful matches with evenly paired opponents. We might not always get it but we are hungry for it. We want sporting contests, executed with talent, speed, strength and power that an individual has spent a lifetime honing and harnessing. And when the match is made and the fighters stand there, we often feel the same thing.

Yes, Andy Ruiz may have stuck a stick of TNT in the heavyweight division but who wasn’t happy for him?

Who wasn’t pleased again to see how, through boxing and a second chance, Tyson Fury was allowed to light up Sin City?

Who didn’t want Josh Warrington-Kid Galahad to spark into life while simultaneously wishing it could be over? Who wasn’t out of their seat watching Steven Ward’s thrilling win over Liam Conroy on Friday? And in Belfast’s great Ulster Hall, of all places.

Of course, it’s not just about the emotions of a fight. It’s about a haven in the community where you know you will be treated fairly, equally and with respect as soon as you walk through the door because the people inside are all craving the same things, fairness, equality and respect.

There have and always be abolitionists but boxing has an unspeakable power to bring people together. It’s not just a way of taking street kids and covering them in bling. It’s not even just a way at giving them a shot in life. Boxing provides respite in war zones, escapism in troubles, reprieve in madness and solace from shackles. There are no racial or religious divides in boxing, even though the sport used to toil through them regardless.

Boxing unites. And those in boxing will know what I mean. Where the problem lies isn’t when the boxing starts, it’s when the boxing stops. That’s when fighters need looking after.

But that’s for another day.

User Comments and Feedback
Comment by Verus on 06-25-2019

[QUOTE=Zaroku;19856042]He postulated 10 dimensions of reality, length, width, height, and time, being knowable, 6 dimensions, unknowable. Parallel universes, string theory, etc. He came up with these theories in the 13th century AD, using only the Torah. Jewish people say, from…

Comment by Zaroku on 06-25-2019

[QUOTE=Verus;19855743]Of course, I would expect to see the names of Fourier, Laplace, Lagrange, and Reimann brought up frequently on this site, but Moses Maimonides? No entyendo.[/QUOTE] He postulated 10 dimensions of reality, length, width, height, and time, being knowable, 6…

Comment by Lion81 on 06-24-2019

Will you pu$$ys get a room

Comment by Verus on 06-24-2019

[QUOTE=Zaroku;19854169]Vend diagram? I love naive set theory, Dirac Delta functions,, FFT fast Fourier transforms, paseval, Laplace, Lagrange, the collective works of Moses Maimonides. George Riemann, (Metric tensors) yang and mills How would you determine a class to assign posters on…

Comment by BoloShot on 06-24-2019

[QUOTE=Zaroku;19854698]Ok, we cool, my bad... peace.[/QUOTE] Peace indeed homie I'm sure I'll catch you on another thread sometime.

Top Headlines
Atlas Believes Gvozdyk Would Have Remained in Boxing if Return Stayed in Place Jared Anderson vs. Hector Perez Rescheduled For July 16 On ESPN Efe Ajagba Inks Advisory Pact With James Prince Euro Results & News: Kraft, Nielsen, Berghult-Rankin II, More Stevenson Officially Vacates WBO 126 Title, Installed As Number One Contender At 130 Vergil Ortiz Jr: I'm Over This Quarantine Stuff, It's Time To Fight Now WBO Planning Four-Man Lightweight Tournament To Establish Mandatory Challenger Jason Moloney: I Would Absolutely Love A Fight With Casimero Bob Arum: Herring-Frampton Will Be Rescheduled For November, Site TBD Luke Campbell: Ryan Garcia Has Speed, Power, But I Will KO Him Katie Taylor: I'll Leave No Doubts In Rematch With Delfine Persoon Archie Sharp is Buzzing To Return Against Jeff Ofori at BT Studio Andres Campos Continues Rise in Rankings, Grows in Confidence Jeff Horn vs. Tim Tszyu on August 26, With Fans, in Townsville Canelo Willing To Entertain Golovkin Trilogy in 2021, Says Golden Boy Prez Jarrell Miller and Boxing's PED Problem Fury: Joshua Refused Wilder Fight Twice - Scared of Being Chinned Deshon Webster, Samuel Clarkson Fight To Draw In Front of Fans In Biloxi Magomed Abdusalamov - Book Being Written, Motion Picture Offers Being Made Jose Pedraza is Not Looking To Rush To a World Title Shot Navarrete Officially Vacates WBO Title, Requests To Be Mandatory at 126 Warrington: Gary Russell is There For The Taking, Xu Can Fight Would Be Memorable Arum: I Believe Jarrell Miller Will Get Multi-Year Suspension or Life Ban Jared Anderson: 'The Real Big Baby' Nickname is Here To Stay! Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury Featured in UFC 4 Video Game Sor Rungvisai Aims For Trilogies With Estrada, ‘Chocolatito’ After Rescheduled Ruenroeng Bout Herring: I Made Promises And Always Keep My Word, Champions Don't Make Excuses Joe Smith's Promoter Hopeful Fight With Alvarez Is Rescheduled For Late August Mikey Garcia Backs Jose Ramirez To Beat Terence Crawford in 147 Clash Daily Bread Mailbag: Badou Jack, Roberto Duran, Joe Frazier, More Edgar Berlanga Vows To Impress on Top Rank Card in Las Vegas Gaspard Pierre, Team Haiti Standout, To Go Pro on July 17 Navarrete, Magdaleno Ready To Fight For Stevenson's Vacant Belt Ryder's Coach: If No Canelo, I Want Billy Joe Saunders Rematch Tibbs Wishes Dillian Whyte All The Best After Communications Breakdown Mayweather Will Travel To Tokyo For Meeting With Rizin Kerman Lejarraga Set To Return on August 8 in Marbella Devin Haney Sounds Off on Lomachenko, Garcia, Lopez, Davis Wallin-Kauffman: Showtime To Televise Heavyweight Fight August 15 Brad Foster Retains Titles With Decision Over James Beech
Latest Forum Threads