Some members of the boxing media only care about being semi-quasi-niche celebrities and rubbing elbows with big shots. Others are cooler than cool bloggers who rejoice in stroking their beards while marveling at their own awesomeness.
But there are other media members who make up the boxing scribe underground– Writers who have disdain for the glad-handing media-types who now populate the scene and would just as soon face stomp a metrosexual faux-expert than scoop up the free flan at a media buffet.
Welcome to the growing counter-culture of boxing media. Welcome to the Rogue Media Roundtable—an ongoing feature that will highlight thought, debate, and opinion seldom shared in the mainstream boxing media.
Round One Panel:
Johnny Walker has been stalking the cyber-halls of the Internet for many a year, first as a Contributing Editor for the first successful online rock music zine, Addicted To Noise (1995-2001), later reinventing himself as a boxing writer publishing his screeds in such venues as Boxing Insider and The Boxing Tribune.
Hans Olson left the north, traveled south, and found a tiny house. He couldn’t help the way he felt. Is that really so strange? Seriously, though, Hans is a freelance boxing writer who specializes in coverage of the thriving boxing scene in Quebec, Canada.
Ted Sares is a veteran fight writer, boxing historian, and power-lifting senior citizen. He currently works at Boxing.com.
Paul Magno prides himself on being the turd in the punch bowl for buffet-diving media shills. He’s also Editor-in-Chief at The Boxing Tribune and a Featured Writer for the Yahoo Contributor Network.
Eddie Goldman is a veteran boxing writer, who practically left the sport in favor of an MMA beat because of the rancid inside politics of the boxing writing game. Goldman hosts No Holds Barred, one of the premiere Combat Sport podcasts.
The State of the Boxing Media
Moderator: All of the major boxing sites are subsidized by money from promoters and/or managers. This makes the vast majority of the mainstream boxing media little more than a promotional tool for the sport’s power brokers.
At the blog level, some good work occasionally gets done, but most small, independent sites just aim to be mini-boxingscene or fightnews light.
In all cases, though, the big stories never really get covered properly and there’s almost nobody doing anything even remotely substantial.
Boxing, more so than any other sport, needs a strong media to keep some of the douche bags from royally screwing the sport, the fighters, and the fans.
What’s your take on the current state of the boxing media? How can things be improved?
Ted Sares: I try to stay out of the backroom stuff on this, but most of the sites are managed by New Yorkers, so I presume they are owned by New Yorkers, and that just dosen’t feel right to me. Especially when a lot of these same guys seem to have some influence on who gets into the BWAA which in turn has a play on who gets into the IBHOF. There is something about all of this that I’m going to really dig into one of these days when I get some time…. Don’t get me wrong on the BWAA, they have a lot of great writers, but I think admission/entry is situational, controlled, and suspect. Just my opinion. I do, however, think Jack Hirsh is a solid guy.
Johnny Walker: I’m not impressed by what I see in a lot of the current boxing media. There seems to be an over-abundance of grandstanding types and drama queens more interested in self-promotion than in the sport. Whether that is caused or exacerbated by the Internet age and its easy access to cyber-platforms from which to speak, or whether it was always that way–I think some of the “old guard” are just as bad as the newbies–is an open question.
Then again, journalism itself to me has always had a sleazy side, which is why I usually participate in it from a distance — in that sense, the Internet has allowed me to do something I probably wouldn’t have done if I had to show up at an office and be around other journalists. I spent a year in journalism school and met some successful journalists — then I decided to go to University instead…. (laughs)
Maybe boxing just attracts a certain type of person, and always will. What takes place in the ring can be so pure and inspiring, yet what goes on outside the ropes is often so petty and vile, and that includes a lot of the media around the sport. That’s the paradox of boxing. It reminds me a lot of the music business in that way.
Ted Sares: Well put… The analogy between the music business and the boxing business is a very good one. Remember the payola scandals? Now, instead of money, you get to dive headlong into the buffet table to scoop up some uncooked and cold chicken wings, rancid cheese, and soggy crackers. Yummy.
Hans Olson: To a large degree I dislike the boxing media. Other than the big names that have real jobs (Rafael, Iole, Mannix, etc) we have a saturated pool of out-of-shape, out-of-touch trust fund dorks ringside.
I don’t necessarily like the opinions or writing that the big boys have and do…
But what I like even less are the kids that pretend to be them.
Eddie Goldman: Most of them can’t write. They won’t deal with real issues which even other sportswriters cover, like concussions, CTE, and dementia. They won’t expose creeps like Arum, whom even Michael Katz used to go after. They won’t defend any writers who cross the boxing bosses, as my situation a few years ago when the BWAA shills, led by Hirsch, suspended me for writing and podcasting about watching pay-per-views on questionable sites. With few exceptions, they won’t expose the ridiculous matchmaking that usually ensures the house fighter is going to win. They are basically useless.
If I believed in people having souls, I would say that these clowns are soulless. But I don’t, so I will just say that they are worthless.
There are a few exceptions, outside the mainstream, of course. There is Carlo Rotella, whose “Cut Time” exposed the whole charade. And my friend Charles Farrell, whom the dummy sites refuse to hire even though he is perhaps the sharpest analyst of fights I know.
Paul Magno: …and don’t get ME started on the boxing media (laughs). I always knew the big guys were mostly in the pockets of the boxing sugar daddies. I mean, geez, when you have guys going on sightseeing junkets with a promotional company’s top brass and giving “shouts out” to publicists, you know what’s going on…It’s this simple– the media is awful because they are paid to be awful. They are paid to be promoter and manager errand boys and they are fine with it because the public doesn’t seem to care all that much…They come when called, promote when told to promote, and only report on the pre-approved talking points outlined by publicists…
What really disappoints me, though… is the smaller, supposedly independent guys who just parrot the bull shit they see with the “big” guys…or the high-minded bloggers who CAN say whatever the hell they want, but dwell in boxing trivia and pompous shit designed to only appeal to other bloggers…
It’s sad that the mainstream, non-boxing media does an infinitely better job at reporting on boxing than the sport’s own media…Lord knows there is plenty to report on besides, “Canelo is ready for war!”
If the fans think that the media and the actual fight game have nothing to do with one another, they are sadly mistaken, Boxing’s sleaziest elements keep screwing fighters and fans precisely because the media is worthless. A real media would clean up the sport in a very short period of time…but, yeah, keep dreaming.
Coming Next– Round Two: The REAL State of the Heavyweight Division