Thoughts on a couple of Sports.

It’s a Friday evening and I have the ‘double’ in front of me.

A 6pm kick off at Toorak Park for the Stonnington Gift and then onto the boxing at Doncaster. As you do.

My wife wasn’t overly happy but my 16 year old son was on cloud nine. Sport all night, no homework and\or jobs to do at home. In addition to the famous ‘ring card’ girls, it was like teenage heaven.

I invited my wife to the boxing. The Shoppingtown hotel does a great ‘parma’. Wash it down with a nice cask moselle, add in the fights, and you have a great night in the making.

Strangely enough, she declined.

I often wonder if females actually like watching the fights?

Without drawing a long bow, boxing and professional athletics have a lot in common.

Having struggled for years to gain mainstream popularity, and with a lack of sponsorship and media support, both are now considered ‘boutique’.

With a small but passionate support base, both sports labour under modern day pressures of having to compete against corporate sporting giants like the AFL, A-League and the NRL.

Whilst I have no proof. I am almost certain these goliaths of sport actually pay to lock other sports out of mainstream media.

With significant historical cache attached to pro running and boxing, I wonder why the government doesn’t chip in.

Maybe they do and I don’t know about it. To my way of thinking if millions of dollars of funding can be injected into the likes of professional tennis and players like Nick Kyrgios, then surely a little bit can be used to assist rich historical sports like professional athletics and Boxing. Maybe its an argument for another day.

Unless you are Anthony Mundine, there are not many fighters making money in Australia. Love him or hate him, his antics guarantee a gate and revenue. Most of the industry isn’t so lucky.

Around the country, small boxing shows survive with the fighters themselves selling tickets to families and friends.

It’s a self-funding ‘thing’ and it works well. Small crowds file into halls and ballrooms around the country supporting the local boxing hero. It’s a practice that supports an industry.

In many ways professional sprinting is going the same way. A large proportion of the sponsorship money comes from current or former athletes and it’s only family and friends that attend race meetings. As such the price of entry to a Gift meeting is almost a donation.

There are most likely dozens of reasons that once great sports like these have declined, but again this is a discussion for another day.

Populated by hard core, rusted on volunteers, boxing and pro running survive with people doing ‘lots’ for very little. Its life for these sports and it keeps them going.

Joy Cox and Murray Thomson are two of those people.

Professional running has the rather unusual quirk of having athletes race in coloured singlets.

Steeped in history, each athlete wears a colour dependant on where they start in a race. For example, the backmarker in every race wears a red singlet.

Before each race, runners must report for a ‘colour’ and sign in. This is Joy Cox’s world.

Part of the pro running scene for over 20 years, there isn’t anybody she doesn’t know in the sport.

Easy going and always smiling, Joy is one of those who gives time and energy to a sport she loves.

Murray Thomson is just the same. Having completed his 71st professional boxing show, in many ways he has been the mainstay of the fight scene in Melbourne for the best part of 20 years.

Not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, Murray’s promotions have not only given kids a start in the game and taken them off the street, but helped maintain a sport that has been ‘on the ropes’ for a decade.

Sports like boxing and professional athletics are significant parts of Australian history and driving from the Stonnington Gift to the fights one Friday evening, got me thinking about both of them.

As an interesting side note, I dropped into the harness racing on the way back to Melbourne after pro running meeting in Ballarat not long ago.

The trotts, now that’s a story………




About David Griffin

Lover of coffee, sport and human endeavour. A writer and life enthusiast with a shameless admiration for dogged persistent people that get 'stuff' done.

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