Can more be done to Support Retired Boxers?

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By Gav Duthie

When scouring the internet for boxing news I was humbled to see Matchroom promotions website dominated by a benefit dinner for recently retired welterweight Lee Purdy 20-5-1 (13) over some of their upcoming fights. Purdy was forced to retire due to an eye injury suffered in a bout with then European champion Leonard Bundu in which the Brit was stopped in the final round. It was refreshing to see Matchroom being so proactive but made me question whether enough is done within the sport for life after boxing. Should there be more on a national/international level to help support retired boxers. We could probably all list a host of our favourite boxers who have fallen on hard times. It is extremely difficult to adjust to life after boxing with many going onto deep depression, substance abuse or even losing their lives.

Purdy

Purdy was no world beater. He received a title shot by default against Devon Alexander due to injury problems with Kell Brook. His performance was spirited but he was nowhere near Devon’s class. Then he lost for the European title leaving him back as a domestic fighter. My point is that Eddie Hearn had no huge obligation to Purdy. He wasn’t going to make Matchroom lots of money or win a world title so it was good to see Hearn help Purdy simply because he was a fighter in his stable, a good honest professional. The dinner on Feb 17th included guest speaking from ex-world champion Darren Barker and Heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua as well as the usual auctions etc. Of course Purdy will now need to stand on his own two feet in the real world but at least this gives him a start.

A different example

There is also the other problem of boxers who can’t afford to stop fighting with a lack of business opportunities elsewhere. Heavyweight Danny Williams who’s record now reads a depressing 46-25 (35) can’t stop boxing because his overheads are so high. His children are in private education and although he admits to being a completely shot fighter he needs the money. Danny Williams was 41-9 when the BBBOC revoked his boxing license to fight in the UK. He was demolished by Derek Chisora in 2 rounds in London on May 2010 and he was a shadow of his former self then. Since then he has fought overseas for promoters looking to add the Williams name to their record. Seeing as he beat Mike Tyson in similar circumstances in 2004 Williams is now just a name. The guy who beat Tyson. His record since May 2010 is 5-17. Williams was never world class but he was a lot better than this. It is sad that he feels he can’t retire.

Education

One could argue take your kids out of private education, get a job but it must be difficult for these guys. Fighting is what they know. People tell them what to eat, when to sleep, train. Everything is boxing and their life is managed for them. Purdy and Williams would have made decent purses when fighting Alexander and Klitschko but people spend what they earn. They don’t have the education to tell them what to do when it stops. A boxer is lucky if he makes it to 35 yrs old but what then. Yes the Floyd Mayweather’s of this world won’t need to worry about money again but those guys are a tiny percentage of the boxing population. In other sports governing bodies provide support, counselling, education and even charity if necessary. I wish more promoters and organisations took the time to look after the guys who fight to entertain us. Gerald McClellan had a benefit dinner almost 20 years after his injury recently. All of his care and fundraising is organised by his sisters. McClellan no longer has any vision and often uses a wheelchair living a very modest life. The likes of Roy Jones has done some fundraising for him but he has pretty much been left alone. I would like to see some sort of charity where boxers could donate part of their purse or just something regulated by someone. At the moment too often in boxing you go into the sport alone and you leave alone.