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SOCIAL MEDIA – THE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVES FOR THE WORLD OF BOXING

Following on from yesterday’s opening article, we continue to look at the ways that social media has made an impact on the world of boxing. In just the space of a decade, social media platforms have shone a light into every corner and crevice of a boxers life, giving fans an unprecedented access never seen before, but is it really fair of us as fans to be able to expect this level of access day in, day out?

Over the course of this week, we will be discovering how some of our most well-known boxers use social media to better engage with their fans but also deal with the ever-present effect of negative trolling. We will also be hearing from their fans, and learn how social media has altered how they follow the sport and their favourite stars.

The second instalment of the week sees us speaking to the former European Middleweight Champion Kerry Hope as well as boxing fan Benji, from Benji’s Boxing Channel. 

hope

Kerry Hope

(Twitter: @Khopebox)

Q1. I think most people would agree that social media platforms have created a far more open and visible relationship between fighters and their fans, but would you say that this is always a positive, and why?

Kerry: Social media can be a beneficial way to promote yourself as a fighter but, what you say can go out to a large audience. It’s good to see a fighter and their fans engage in conversation but as in any sport, ego can play a part for some fighters that only sends out bad messages which are confronted by a lot of people sitting behind their computer screens.

Q2. Do you feel that the pressure to engage with fans on social media can have an effect on how you train or recover from training? For example, in the day leading up to a fight would you feel pressurized to respond to messages instead of focussing and relaxing?

Kerry:  From personal experience, I always tried to respond to people on social media, but when your fully into training camp ahead of a big fight it’s a lot harder. Some may not understand the breakdown a fighter puts into training for 8-12 weeks not only the physical but the mental game can be so draining and when you get downtime you need to be switched off from everything, sometimes something away from boxing to keep your mind hungry. Ticket sales in fight week can lead a bit more engaging on social media.

Q3. Social media not only allows fans to pass on positive comments but also an unprecedented ability to troll a fighter with negativity. Have you ever felt that this has affected you in any way, how, and how do you deal with it?

Kerry: I have never been rude or tried to promote myself in the wrong way to get attention. Trolls are everywhere and when they are sat in their chair with a pizza or in the pub with a group of mates their ready to jump and respond to something you post with their small-minded attack because they have no heart to say it in person. I have experienced negative responses from something I’ve posted but I knew it was only coming from someone that couldn’t do what I could nor would they have the balls to try, plus it would only drive me to prove them wrong.

Q4. We have seen an increasing number of fight negotiations being made public on social media platforms. Do you feel that this is good practice, and do you think it helps or hinders the negotiations process?

Kerry: As we know there is a lot of politics in boxing and some promoters or managers like to protect their fighter, but using social media can be used to put the other party on the spot and make them respond in front of the public eye. It’s a way of giving answers to everyone about a fight that is or hasn’t materialised.

Q5. Finally, overall, would you prefer to have fought in an era that social media didn’t play such a pivotal role in boxing?

Kerry: I think social media has probably created more money in boxing, the game is moving forward and the money will increase with it. It is giving boxing and it’s fighters more publicity, some want to see you do well and some want you to fall flat therefore they pay to see and social media will help promote.

TYsHCKuB_400x400Our second boxing fan we speak to this week is Benji, from Benji’s Boxing channel 

(Twitter: @BenjiBoxing)

Q1. I think most people would agree that social media platforms have created a far more open and visible relationship between fighters and their fans, but would you say that this is always a positive, and why?

Ben: Unfortunately no, it’s not always positive. Before the time of social media the only time you got to tell an athlete what you thought of them was to go to the event and shout what you think from the stands. Failing that you may have been lucky to bump into them out in the street. Unfortunately though, when meeting an athlete face to face most get cold feet when it comes to saying what they want to say, especially if it is negative. Social media gives people the opportunity to say what they think, anonymously. Modern day athletes, if they choose to be on Social Media, probably get more abuse now than ever before in history.

The other issue is that athletes now have the ability to be more outspoken. In the past, you only heard from your favourite athlete if they did an interview, and they could pick and choose to interview them and who didn’t. And these interviews the vast majority of the time would be about the sport that they are involved in. Fans would rarely get a look at a person’s views on society, politics, sexuality or religion. Basically, inflammatory and sometimes divisive subjects that you’d never want to be brought up at the dinner table. Of course, there have been exceptions, such as Muhammad Ali. But had his well-publicised draft refusal never happened his stance on that subject and other social issues may not have been so prominent in his career.

These days though, Athletes can now broadcast to the entire world whatever comes into their head if they wish. And many do. We’ve even seen Amir Khan broadcast a split with his wife, accusing her of seeing Anthony Joshua on Twitter. This gives an unfiltered, warts and all look insight into your favorite sporting hero. Whilst previously fans could fill in the gaps and convince themselves that the person they’re a fan of is a great person away from the sporting arena. Now, if you follow them on social media there are far fewer gaps to fill. Just one tweet or retweet can totally change a fans opinion on the person that they are following. The old saying, never meet your idols still has relevance today. Although maybe it should be ‘don’t follow your idols on social media’.

Q2. In your opinion, would the way a boxer interacts with their fans through social media influence your opinion of them? For example, are you more likely to follow closely a boxer who is more prevalent on a social media platform than not, regardless of any other factors?

Ben: I try to focus on the sport rather than the personality. It is very easy to get personal these days, but I try to ignore scandal and sensation and concentrate on how the fighter is performing in the ring. It is much easier to stay up to date with fighters who are very active on social media than it is that isn’t. The problem is boxers don’t JUST talk about boxing. they talk about other things that may be controversial and absolutely this can change influence opinion. And there are many fighters that I have talked about on my channel about being ‘hard to like.’ But really, if you are a person who is ‘all about the boxing’ then you should be able to appreciate the skill level of a fighter even if it is someone who is the type of person that you wouldn’t want to have dinner with.

Q3. Social media not only allows fans to pass on positive comments but also an unprecedented ability to troll a fighter with negativity. At what point do you feel that a fans constructive criticism turns into blatant negative trolling or even bullying?

Ben: As soon as it becomes personal then it’s trolling. Again, I try to be constructive in my critique of a contest. As soon as someone says something along the lines of ‘I’m glad that person got knocked out because they are a complete dick head…’ Then it’s not about the boxing anymore it’s personal.

Q4. When we look at the build up to fights, social media has become instrumental in creating a hype to help sell the fight. Looking back at the super fights over the last 18 months, do you think it would have been possible to fill the likes of Wembley and Principality with 90,000 fans without the use of social media?

Ben: There were massive fights in boxing before social media. The Rumble in the Jungle springs to mind instantly. But in this country, we also had Eubank and Benn in a football stadium, and Frank Bruno had a number of fights in Wembley Stadium. So it’s not impossible that someone like AJ would be as popular as he is without it… But it has certainly helped.

Q5. Imagine that you lived in a time without social media. Do you feel that you would follow the sport as closely as you do now? Do you think that your choice of favourite fighters would differ without the increased visibility that social media brings?

Ben: I first started watching boxing in the early to mid-90s which were before social media. I was a young kid then and wasn’t really aware of a fight happening until the week before a fight. And if there was boxing on, I’d sit and watch it. I have to say I don’t think my favourite fighters would be different. Although there are certain boxers like David Allen who I might not have so much of an interest in, due to how he is on social media I can’t help but have a soft spot for him and want to see him do well.

Thank you to both Kerry and Benji for allowing us this time! Tomorrow’s article see’s us talking to Team GB athlete, ABA Champion, Three Nations Gold Medallist, GB Champion, 4 x multi-nations Champion, 2 x NABC Champion and keen dancer (Oh and not to mention, First Dates star…), Jordan Reynolds. Our fan for the day is boxing fan/amateur boxer (19-1), George Rodriguez.

3 comments on “SOCIAL MEDIA – THE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVES FOR THE WORLD OF BOXING

  1. Pingback: SOCIAL MEDIA – THE POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES FOR BOXING – TOPCLASSBOXING

  2. Pingback: SOCIAL MEDIA – THE POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES FOR BOXING – TOPCLASSBOXING

  3. Pingback: SOCIAL MEDIA – THE POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES OF BOXING – TOPCLASSBOXING

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