Sunday is my favourite day of the week.
“Let’s get ready to rumble!”
For many Australians, that immediately makes you think boxing. The famous line that introduced millions of people around the world to world championship bouts for generations. For some, it was an introduction as to what they would take up, to stay fit, to learn discipline and for some attempt to make a career.
Unfortunately, if you aren’t a big talker or making the headlines with bold statements, many boxers around the country just don’t earn enough to make a living from it.
Love him or hate him, Anthony Mundine running his mouth sold tickets and sold pay-per-views. If you hated him you were tuning in to see him get knocked out. If you loved him you were in it for another reason to gloat to those on the other side of the fence that he was better than they were giving him credit for (which for the record at the peak of his boxing career Mundine did have the power and speed to back it up, he did chase the dollar a little bit at the back end of his career and therefore at least both sides of the love him/hate him side had opportunities to gloat).
But unless you are someone ready to turn the majority of Australia against you to make headlines the fact remains there is not enough money invested into boxing across Australia. There are so many talented boxers who have to decide whether to go to work and feed their families or train for a fight.
There are some that have to turn down a chance to progress their careers inside the squared circle due to the fact that they only make money at bouts from the tickets they sell.
As a sporting-mad nation, we need to change this. And we need to support local boxing more in order to let those boxers with true ability shine through.
Outside the names like Sonny Bill Williams, Paul Gallen, Tim Tszyu and a relatively small number of others most people wouldn’t be able to tell you much about boxing, and why is there such a hurry to get overseas to fight? The simple answer is that is where the money is.
Not since the 2009-2010 show The Contender – eventually won by Garth Wood (spoiler alert) – where the winner would have a $250,000 ‘prize-fight’ with Anthony Mundine (back in his heyday) has boxing truly gripped the imaginations of every day Australians.
Like many other sporting administrators, the Australian National Boxing Federation (ANBF) are afraid of making radical changes for fear of backlash from the state boxing associations and federations, and out of fear of alienating a few ‘legends’.
And anyone from the ANBF reading this – there is nothing wrong with that, it is a natural approach that is taken by many governing sport bodies.
Let us look at one way we could possibly support the local Australian boxing scene and bring back a true core meaning to boxing. It is an Olympic sport, and Australia has a rich history of generating boxing champions on the international scene.
Just a year ago during the height of the pandemic outbreak, Scott Morrison provided the NRL with a $238 million government ‘assistance’ package, but not a handout it was an “investment to ensure the game continues into the future”.
Let’s say the Australian National Boxing Federation obtained a $20 million “investment to ensure the code continues into the future” from the federal government and rejigged the local boxing scene.
The Super League ideas continue to gain interest in all sporting codes overseas, they are basically backed by extremely rich people and offering to pay its athletes top dollar to compete – primarily because most are ‘rebel’ competitions to long-standing power brokers who don’t want to lose their cut – the Australian National Boxing Federation could act now before some retired boxers who were smart with their money during their careers decide that its time to support the local scene more and put differences aside to better Australian boxing and launch their own Super League.
An ANBF Super League would shake things up and has the ability to bring some fans back to the sport, giving it some relevance in Australia where we are all crazy about our sport. While the below idea may not be ideal, it is at least a start.
A controversial start, but something hopefully people would accept being for the overall good, is all rankings across the country are reset – I mean no one knows how any of these rankings work and even a search on the World Boxing Federation Rankings page doesn’t help as it states:
“The World Boxing Federation (WBF) used independently calculated rankings, upon which the World Boxing Federation have no input into the position of the boxers.”
So first of all we would need to replace that with a new system that is easy to understand, and provides the fans with an easy way to seeing who sits where and why they sit where they do on the rankings.
Controversial, yes, but all boxers across Australia have zero ranking points. Most sports across Australia work on the win/draw/loss point system and people can follow and even understand it. So let’s implement something like that.
But we also need to reward performances, so we will add to it a bonus point for a knockout.
So, what we currently have is zero for a loss, one point for a draw, two for a win and a bonus point if it is a knockout.
The Super League
As no one knows how the rankings system actually works for now we keep the top ten on the current rankings page, despite everyone being on zero ranking points.
The next step for the Australian National Boxing Federation would be to either live stream, or more preferably partner with boxing promoters such as No Limits Boxing, while finding a broadcaster to hold Weekly Friday Night Fight Nights – free-to-air would obviously be best.
Throughout the country fighters are continuing to do their thing, fight in local promotions to continue to improve their overall rank in their weight division using the above ranking system with the rules being adopted that each fighter when issuing the challenge must fight someone ranked above them on the state rankings.
Upon hitting the top ten at the state level, the fighter may then take up or issue a challenge to an interstate fighter who is ranked in the national top ten.
Friday Night Fight Night will feature selected bouts, with dark fights live-streamed through the ANBF platform of those top ten national fighters involved in a tournament-style fight off for the title of that weight division.
Using the funding
The funding from the federal government could be used to dispense throughout the states – to a degree – to help them reinvigorate their systems to help guarantee a minimum fight payment for all bouts that they sanction.
Meaning promoters need to do their part and literally what their job says – promote.
There needs to be some degree that people wishing to pursue this sport can do so without concern that it is either go to work and feed the family or try and follow their dream or pursuits in the sport whatever their reason.
Obviously, under this more open and transparent ranking system the guaranteed payment to the fighter increases with his ranking and guarantee $100,000 to title winners – in fights that only the ANBF sanction.
This will create more hunger for those to get to the top, it will provide fighters with more exposure that they may be getting now helping to obtain sponsors while at the same time dispel the general notion that the sport is just full of thugs – two guys in a ring bashing each other.
Anyway, it is just a thought, please feel free to share your thoughts on how to improve the financial support for boxers and to enhance the boxing code in the comments below.