Boxiana: Volume 1 is available NOW through Troubador Publishing, Amazon in the UK, Amazon in the USA and all good traditional and online booksellers.
Over the past couple of months, this blog has been featuring a series of exclusive previews of content from Boxiana: Volume 1, which will hopefully whet your appetite and persuade you to buy the full volume, which is available NOW as a paperback book (RRP £9.99) or ebook (RRP £3.99).
Today I'm presenting an extract by James Hernandez, in which he speaks to former British and European lightweight champ Jon Thaxton ...
A BOXING AFTERLIFE
A BOXING AFTERLIFE
Former British and European Lightweight champion Jon Thaxton talks to James Hernandez about his career in and outside of the ring …
Saturday April 9 2005. A significant date in the life of Jon Thaxton. It was the night he was crowned champion of the world, albeit for the lightly regarded WBF version, in his home city of Norwich. The locals, many of whom had seen Norwich City famously beat Manchester United 2-0 that afternoon at Carrow Road, packed out the Norwich Sports Village to see their gladiator make it a memorable sporting double for Norfolk.
With steel-like intensity there would be no stopping Thaxton that night. In just one glance you could see a man so focused, so motivated he had the fight won before the opening bell had sounded. Sitting ringside I could smell the blood of his opponent, Christophe De Busillet, with a distinct metal taste in my mouth as ‘Jono’ threw punch after punch, like relentless North Sea waves pounding against the cliff-tops of Dunkirk.
Every punch was finely executed and detonating on their intended target to perfection. The Norwich boxing fraternity got what they had come for, as they witnessed their local hero make light work of an increasingly sorry-looking Frenchman to win inside four rounds. Jubilant scenes ensued for the triumphant Thaxton and pity for the challenger who returned home to his native shores a beaten soldier.
Fast forward some eight years later and those same high levels of determination and intensity are still present as I meet up with Jon at Attleborough ABC, 15 miles south west of Norwich. Jon puts in a special appearance for the young hopefuls that hope to follow in the footsteps of Thaxton and make their mark as a professional. His talk is inspiring, engaging and honest as he talks about what it takes to make it: “Hard work and dedication, as there are simply no short cuts to stardom in boxing.”
For 17 years, impressive in itself for such a punishing sport, Norwich’s boxing hero mixed it with the best of them inside the ring. He gave it his all. Blood, sweat and tears were exchanged for the highly coveted Lonsdale belt, which arrived some 14 years after turning professional in 1992. However, there inevitably comes a time when every boxer has had his day - the day when the human body just ceases to perform at its optimum level. It’s every boxer’s worst nightmare; the day they take out the gum shield one last time and call it quits. Many boxers such as Ken Norton and Evander Holyfield can’t let go and carry on way past their best, risking serious injuries for one last payday. Others, like Mike Tyson and Ricky Hatton, through binge drinking and recreational drugs, go off the rails until they find who they are outside of the boxing ring. The day when any successful boxer realises it is over can be one of the most isolated days of a fighter’s life. Once the boxing stops, there is an enormous void to fill.
“That's all they know how and they don't know what else to do,” says Thaxton. “With me, I was very smart as I built a business outside of boxing, through things such as team building, working in schools, motivational workshops. I used my boxing as a tool to get into business.”
THE FULL ARTICLE APPEARS IN BOXIANA: VOLUME 1
JAMES HERNANDEZ became a keen boxing observer while growing up watching the likes of Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Naseem Hamed on ITV’s The Big Fight Live. A career in journalism began at his local BBC radio station and has since gone on to cover a wide range of sports and subjects for a variety of outlets. He has covered football from grass roots level to the Premier League and from the world of boxing interviewed amateur boxers all the way through to world champions. James has previously contributed to BoxRec and is a ringside reporter for Boxing News, the world’s oldest fight magazine. You can follow James on Twitter: @BoxingJem
An anthology of new boxing writing Boxiana: Volume 1 is available in both paperback book and eBook formats. Boxiana editor Luke G. Williams said: “In a world dominated by 140 character limits and the 24-hour news cycle, brevity and superficiality have become de rigueur. Boxiana takes a different approach; by using long-form journalism to take an in-depth look at boxing’s past, present and future, we are hoping that Boxiana will become a vital new voice in sports writing.”
In Volume 1:
Trevor Von Eeden, author of graphic novel The Original Johnson, analyses the significance of Jack Johnson; Mario Mungia tries his hand at amateur boxing; Ben Williams uncovers his grandfather’s bare-knuckle career; James Hernandez catches up with Jon Thaxton; Matthew Ogborn ponders boxers and retirement; rising light heavyweight Chris Hobbs recounts his life in the military and the ring; Rowland Stone recalls a heady night in 1992; Corey Quincy attempts to solve the Wladimir Klitschko conundrum and Luke G. Williams examines the meteoric rise of Deontay Wilder and the under-rated career of Chris Byrd.
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