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SOCIAL MEDIA – THE POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES OF BOXING

We find ourselves at the final article of the series, through the course of this week, we have heard from some great boxers and of course some equally great fans. One thing that has become clear is that social media has irreversibly changed the way that boxers and their fans interact, how fights are promoted, and how some even become to be made in the first place! The lines between the role of a boxer and that of a  promoter continue to blur, as fighters become more and more in control of their own public image. In today’s article, we find out how social media has also affected the way boxing sites such as this one operate.

The final instalment of the week sees us speaking to the creator of Top Class Boxing Paul Daley. Our fan for the day is longtime boxing fan, Paul Adams.

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PAUL J DALEY

(Twitter: @TopClassBoxing)

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?

Paul: Depends on the individual, most fighters I have talked to via Social Media are open to conversation, I’ve been able to make a lot of good friends from my time using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, friends who I have stayed in touch with since their retirement.

On the flipside it can get out of hand, where a fighter’s dirty laundry can surface, the biggest example recently was Amir Khan’s spat with his wife in which somehow Anthony Joshua was brought into the conversation, it becomes a soap opera at times which can hurt a fighters career going forward.

Q2. When you created TopClassBoxing.co.uk (14 years ago), social media was in its infancy and was not widely used. How has the increased use of social media impacted how you run the site? What would you say has been the biggest positive, and have there been any negatives?

Paul: The biggest positive is the ability to reach a far wider audience, with a click of a button your articles can reach thousands of people through RT’ing and sharing amongst followers. The other positive would be working with like-minded people like yourself (writers) who have become great friends because of the interaction over Social Media.

Negatives, I have to be honest, I’ve been lucky enough to not be inundated with trolls, in general, I have a good repour with fight fans, but on occasion I have had a few run-ins with some well-known publications, some trying to poach writers, others actually stealing content but I look at it on the flipside, thinking to myself I must be doing something right for them to go out of their way to do this/that.

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?

Paul: I hate to see a fighter disrespected in any way, I’ve always been of the thought process that if you step through those ropes, whether it be professional, semi, or amateur you deserve the respect from fight fans.

I’m all for a bit of banter when a fighter opens himself up to it but when it starts to become personal is where I have issue. These so-called fight fans have no place in the boxing community in my eyes, people who in the words of Jay Z, “Couldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight” take to Twitter with the sole intention on tearing a fighter down, not knowing the sacrifices that individual has had to go to in order to put on a show for them, all the time whilst they sit in the comfort of their living rooms.

You just can’t win with some people, it’s hard to argue with idiocy, I heard someone only the other day telling another on a boxing group of how Sugar Ray Robinson was overrated, It was at that moment I switched off my phone and decided to pick up a book lol.

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?

Paul: I believe so, it depends on the marketability/fan base of the fighter but way before Wembley and the Principality stadium was squeezing people into the stadium, Tony Zale v Billy Pryor did 135,132, Julio Cesar Chavez Vs. Greg Haugen did 132,274 at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City and of course Jack Dempsey Vs. Gene Tunney did over 120 thousand, in fact, recent big fights don’t even make the top five and all these were before the introduction of Social Media.

I believe Social Media has helped restore boxing’s standing especially with the competition from Mixed Martial Arts and fighters like Floyd Mayweather, Anthony Joshua and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez have certainly grasped the opportunity with open hands, making them very lucrative via sponsorship deals etc and giving them a bigger profile the casual watcher.

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?

Paul: I do, I’m very much an old-school boxing fan who enjoys watching the black and white additions on repeat, fascinated by the likes of Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong, the odd occasion I can find some footage of Jimmy Wilde to name but a few, I love the history of the sport and hand on heart can honestly say I rather watch a fight without the distraction of Social Media.

As for favourite fighter, a guy from my local boxing gym told me about this young American who was flashy, quick and untouchable, Mr Roy Jones Jr, from that moment on I was fixated on him, scouring the web to find any and all footage of his amateur days, In those days, I don’t know if you remember but you could buy VHS tapes from the back of boxing magazines, I have hundreds of them still in my mother’s attic and the same guy who told me about Roy, a boxing trainer called Sean Jones also had a massive collection of tapes so we would swap or mainly I would borrow off him, all this was before Social Media, so long story short, I would say it doesn’t have an impact on my choice of favourite fighter.

yBU9ByzR_400x400.jpgOur final boxing fan we speak to this week Paul Adams

(Twitter: @tallpaulp

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?

Paul: Yes I agree that social media has made supporting an individual boxer much easier, I do think there can be some negatives as we all know the aforementioned keyboard Warriors people also use it to spread their own views on a boxer whether positive or negative, admittedly a boxer is in the public eye but that doesn’t mean they should be open to verbal abuse. Also as with most individuals, some boxers are going to be more fluent on social media than others but as a general rule I think it’s a great development for fans and if used correctly it can be a great tool.

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?

Paul: I’m the type of individual that very much follows someone more down to how they carry themselves as a human being as with all males I love a good bit of banter but when banter becomes abuse or pure arrogance I tend to walk away. I have never ever followed just who is the best of the best or followed a boxer just for the heart desire and how they control themselves out of the ring. Many of the people I follow are definitely not the best but I like them as human beings and I think too many champions are just born with natural talent and gifts and often follow people who have to really work for it. I do love a good underdog.

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?

Paul: I believe there are just too many keyboard warriors out there that you don’t realise they are dealing with professional pugilists and also people who give their heart in the square ring for the own self-improvement. I think we have to be careful in this day and age highlighting the example of Tyson Fury, luckily he is quite a strong character but there are a lot of people out there that when faced with constant abuse or criticism they can’t handle it. Not saying that there are any out there but there are many people with mental problems at the moment. If anything from what I have experienced most fans won’t let someone just be verbally abused over and over, most of us we support different boxers but we all come from the family of boxing and I think they’re human beings.

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?

Paul:  Yes social media correctly helps sell fights but boxing has always done well long before social media. Look back to the early 1900s with the first million-dollar Gates boxing. If you follow it, it is something you just have a massive passion about and you will find the fight. I do agree that social media can help but also have previous history of watching the Bruno Bugner fight, for example, massive fights long before social media so yes I do agree that social media greatly helps but I also believe that boxing would always rise to the top regardless of social media or not. Too many people just like it,  it’s much easier to follow now but even when I started following the 80s it was very hard to get fights, fight results & magazines but if you have a passion about something you will get there.

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?

Paul: Who’s not far off being 50 now? I have followed boxing when it was hard to follow but like stated in the previous question if you have a passion for something you will follow it. I can’t explain or understand my passion for boxing, I just know that I do have it and I have an immense gratitude for the sportsman, who are on their own individual walk through life and I appreciate that they let us join in that journey and watch the journey through the sport and through life. I am glad first and foremost that boxing is in my life, even just as a fan I get to meet many wonderful people that I don’t know and I get to discuss something I have a passion for with many people I know and with many strangers, it’s a beautiful sport all hail the sweet science.

Thank you to Paul Daley and Paul Adams for allowing us this time!

PART ONE, TWO, THREE AND FOUR

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