How the once mighty Briggs was brought to his knees

Garth Hamilton Roar Guru

By Garth Hamilton, Garth Hamilton is a Roar Guru

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    Paul Briggs is counted out after just 29 seconds. (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)

    Paul Briggs is counted out after just 29 seconds. (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)

    Paul Briggs was something of a childhood hero of mine. Only four years separated us, but it might as well have been twenty, so much further down the path to being a man did he seem to be.

    I was getting too many injuries playing rugby, so my Dad dragged me along to the gym to build myself up. It was a working man’s gym located in one of Brisbane’s uglier industrial areas, about as far removed from Fitness First as you could get, where free weights outnumbered machines under posters of Dorian Yates and Playboy centrefolds.

    Paul was my trainer and the star of the gym.

    His kickboxing exploits had been earning him attention during his teenage years and a herd of kids like me lined up to be taught by him.

    Towards the back of a gym was an elevated ring where Paul and his brother Nathan trained relentlessly at Muay Thai. Nathan always reminded me of Dolph Lundgren; a huge man with features plucked straight from a Nazi propaganda poster.

    He looked like he should have been the better fighter of the siblings, but there was always something special about Paul.

    In later years, I would be able to identify it as his ability to immerse himself in brutality without losing his focus or self control. A cold fury.

    As a kick boxer, he could best be described as a kicking boxer.

    Most kick boxers simply do not defend properly against quick, repeated jabs, preferring to concentrate on delivering the big showy roundhouse kicks of Jean-Claude Van Damme movies. Paul was first and foremost a boxer and in the time it took his unlucky opponent to deliver a kick he would have landed a three or four punch combo to the head.

    This disdain for the risks of unnecessary flair reminded me of other miserly sporting heroes like Allan Border and Michael Lynagh and there was something definitively Australian about it.

    I followed his career with interest and would stand with my chin on the bottom rope and watch him train. It was wonderful to see a local boy from a working class neighbourhood do so well and I can remember the excitement of his first world title bout against one of Thailand’s best.

    Paul was nearly hobbled in the fight as his opponent kicked the inside of his knee repeatedly, like David Foster knocking his way through a block of wood.

    By the end, Paul couldn’t walk and was wobbling on one leg when his father finally threw in the towel.

    Now there was a hard bastard. I’ll never forget the look on his old man’s face; that sacred pride in a well-defeated son.

    That was the last time I saw Paul, but I remember hearing that he had fallen out with his Dad and landed himself into some trouble.

    Little did I know the depths of it.

    I was happy to see him revive his boxing talents and watched intently his first bout with Tomasz Adamek. The sheer brutality of the match was shocking but it was not surprising. Boxing rarely throws up such perfectly matched opponents and for fans of the sport it remains a must see.

    Though he lost this fight and the subsequent rematch most impartial fans would have been happy to see the second bout go either way. The manner of his loss was such that the result did his profile little harm and things looked up for him. His time, it seemed, had come.

    These recollections are not presented as a defence against what happened against Danny Green.

    He was always a hard man to know and I don’t claim to have known him well, but I don’t expect any amount of media speculation will make any real headway into the mind of Paul Briggs.

    I just couldn’t help but use this forum to express my regret that boxing stories rarely have happy endings.

    For what it is worth, I’d rather remember him as an astonishingly brutal and relentless fighter, an aloof and hardworking sportsman, and a kind guy who never once laughed at just how few of his father’s weights I ever troubled.

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    The Crowd Says (19)

    • Roar Pro

      July 23rd 2010 @ 8:52am
      Hutchoman said | July 23rd 2010 @ 8:52am | ! Report

      What a disgrace and then to attempt to explain it all away this morning, essentially claiming this was a Briggs charity event. In seems that Briggs wasn’t the mug after all, rather in an event that has become common place in Australian boxing, the paying punter is.

      That’s it for me. Never again will I watch an Australian promoted fight.

      • July 23rd 2010 @ 9:02am
        Mals said | July 23rd 2010 @ 9:02am | ! Report

        No disrespect Hutcho but yeah you are the mug if bought this on pay per view or went to the bout. This was always going to be a watch at the pub/club fight.

        • Roar Pro

          July 23rd 2010 @ 11:23am
          Hutchoman said | July 23rd 2010 @ 11:23am | ! Report

          Hi Mals, yeah, didn’t personally fork out for the reasons you outline, but this one wasn’t even worth the trip to the pub, let alone forking out my hard earned. Bring on more live UFC in Australia!

    • July 23rd 2010 @ 8:59am
      Mals said | July 23rd 2010 @ 8:59am | ! Report

      Garth, i enjoyed this piece nice work! I’m the same age as Briggs & have followed his career from the beginning, read his book etc. He’s lived 2 “normal” lifetimes in his 34 years. Maybe that’s why he appeared closer to 44 than 34 (no disrespect) when he climbed into the ring on Wednesday night. Danny looked the younger, more purposeful fighter.

      Do you think it was money that was the single purpose for him to take this fight at relatively short notice against such a strong opponent? How deep are his financial problems? Even before the fight started i could see no fire or hunger in Paul’s eyes.

    • Roar Pro

      July 23rd 2010 @ 9:32am
      ptovey01 said | July 23rd 2010 @ 9:32am | ! Report

      No respect for greene now. He should have just stuck to his guns and called Briggs a dog.

      • July 23rd 2010 @ 10:44am
        Mals said | July 23rd 2010 @ 10:44am | ! Report

        Green already had called Briggs a canine at the end of the fight. He didn’t apologise for it the next day. What would Green have achieved by “double dogging” him?

    • Roar Guru

      July 23rd 2010 @ 10:38am
      Redb said | July 23rd 2010 @ 10:38am | ! Report

      Message to Danny Green, that flickering light in the far distance is your career as a promoter.

    • July 23rd 2010 @ 11:45am
      Paddy said | July 23rd 2010 @ 11:45am | ! Report

      Good article Garth. I don’t think people realise how incredibly talented Briggs was. I was hoping that Briggs would have one last blaze of glory to show us how good he was and how good he could have been. Sadly all that is lost now.

    • Editor

      July 23rd 2010 @ 12:40pm
      Tristan Rayner said | July 23rd 2010 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

      Thanks for the article Garth. A great read that explores the true depth of the story, unlike the beatups yesterday which heaped scorn on the man.

      I feel for Briggs.

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