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Digital Subscriptions > Men's Fitness > November 2019 > LOSING FOR A LIVING

LOSING FOR A LIVING

ELITE SPORT IS USUALLY ABOUT WINNING AT ALL COSTS, SO WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A PROFESSIONAL LOSER? WRITER MARK TURLEY SPENT A YEAR MEETING WITH THE BOXERS ACCUSTOMED TO DEFEAT

The scene at the iconic York Hall in Bethnal Green is typically chaotic, both tiers packed, the crowd divided into sections. Essex wideboys in one, Irish maniacs in another, Peckham roadmen hanging over balustrades upstairs. Football songs, designer clobber, lines of cheap coke in the toilet. Subdued violence hangs in the air like a fog.

Amidst all that, in the ring, the actual, regulated violence – a boxing match – is about to start. Clad in shiny shorts and robe, one of the fighters grins, bouncing from foot to foot. The bow-tied MC introduces him: “Tonight ladies and gentlemen, making his debut…” and the kid swivels on his hips and scowls theatrically. His contingent of fans go crazy, screaming, punching the air. One of them blows an airhorn.

Photography Shutterstock

By contrast, when the other boxer is introduced, the hall falls into eerie silence. His name is Johnny Greaves, a local boy from London’s East End, but few seem bothered about that. We are told he is a veteran of more than 90 fights. Fair enough, but when the MC goes on to state that Greaves has won just three of them, a few groans and even some mocking laughter can be heard.

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