If you’re reading this then I’d say it’s fair to assume that you are a boxing fan. As boxing fans there is a term that seems to be thrown about by boxing fans to show disrespect to other boxing fans. That term is “Casual”.
The term casual is deemed an insult by some as it means that the person who is being called a casual has limited knowledge of boxing and in turn their opinion doesn’t matter. It also gets used as an insult to those who only tune in for the big fights, those who probably only know 5 fighters and don’t know how many recognized governing bodies there are or the order of the weight classes. And they are seen as lesser boxing fans than those who do know more that 5 fighters and who do know how many recognized governing bodies there are and who could tell you the order of the weight classes.
Whether the more diehard fans like it or not, a lot of money is generated from “casual” fans that go to the big boxing shows or buy the Box Office fights. If anything these casual fans are the reason why boxing is booming at the moment. But what I want to know is why there is such animosity toward casual fans?
Surely more fans watching and going to fights are good for boxers and boxing? More fans paying for Box Office shows or buying tickets means more money in boxing which will mean more success in the future?
“But Chris!” I hear you shouting “They only line the pockets of the already rich fighters! They don’t care about the “Real Fighters” who are struggling to break even when they fight”
And if you were screaming that at your phone or computer screen as you read that last paragraph I would say this to you: You’re right.
Yes you are right; they may only buy the Box Office when Anthony Joshua is fighting, they might be going to shows and the highlight of their night is singing along to “Sweet Caroline”. But weren’t we all there at one point?
“Hi, my name is Chris and I was a Casual”
I can hand on heart tell you I was. I grew up in the 90s knowing only 5 or 6 boxers. They were:
- Chris Eubank
- Nigel Benn
- Steve Collins
- Prince Naseem Hamed
- Lennox Lewis
And to a lesser extent Michael Watson (due to his career being cut short in the tragic second fight against Eubank when I was only 5).
But I was hooked to them 5, if it wasn’t them fighting I didn’t really care. I remember thinking “Who is this Gerald McClellan? And why do people think he stands a chance against Nigel Benn? It’s Nigel Benn!? He’ll win easily”. Yes he did win, but how wrong was I about it being easy.
Even Naz vs Barrera I remember thinking that Naz would walk through him because he was one of my fighters, he was the best and he would never lose.
But I was a casual at that time.
My love and passion for boxing didn’t really start to bloom until I got a job at the world famous York Hall when I was 16. My job was to set up for any functions that were going on in the main hall. A regular function was boxing. I would set out the seats for the events and sometimes help during the events in the bar area (obviously not serving as I was underage). It was then that I first heard of Ricky Hatton, who ended up being one of my favorite fighters. But I was still a casual. When I started working at York Hall Hatton was already the WBU World Champion. In my eyes he was the only world champion that mattered in his division. If someone had mentioned Kostya Tszyu to me at this time I probably would have replied by saying “Bless you”…
But from 2002 onwards I started watching boxing religiously. I would stay up to watch the BBC highlights of boxing (I remember watching a certain David Haye box at the Playboy Mansion on one of these shows). I would watch the boxing on itv4 because it was on (it was on itv4 that I first saw Carl Froch fight and then later on, I watched Tyson Fury make his debut). I started going to more shows as well and my first “Big” card was the Audley Harrison vs Michael Sprott fight at Wembley (I saw a certain Dereck Chisora make his debut that night)
Different fighters made me watch more, Amir Khan getting his Silver medal in 2004 made me watch and learn more about different fighters. Our Beijing Olympics boxers in 2008 made me learn more. I could go on (and on and on).
So Chris, when did you stop being a casual fan?
There’s two answers to this question:
In the literal sense: Probably when I started working at York Hall and stopped just watching the big fights
In the derogatory sense: I don’t think you ever stop being a casual to some extent
So you’re saying that you’re a casual?
Yes and no. I have a wealth of knowledge on boxing, but do I know everything? No. Are there people out there that know more than me? Yes. So would these people see me as a casual? Possibly
So what’s your point?
My point is we’re all casuals to someone. Just because I didn’t know that Joe Louis’ real name is Joseph Barrow doesn’t make my love for boxing any less than those who did know this fact. Just because I have a good knowledge of who the reigning Southern Area champions* are right now and you may not doesn’t mean you love boxing less than I do.
Don’t hate a casual fan, try and embrace them. After all we were all once that casual fan who loved one fighter and who thought they were the absolute bee’s knees because they were our favourite.
*Southern Area Champions on the 27/06/2019 (I will note the ones I didn’t know off the top of my head by putting them in bold)
- Heavyweight – Vacant, last held by Daniel Dubois
- Cruiserweight – Daniel Mendes
- Light Heavyweight – Vacant, last held by Andre Sterling. Being fought for between Dan Azeez and Charlie Duffield on July 20th
- Super Middleweight – Zak Chelli
- Middleweight – Brad Pauls
- Super-Welterweight – Sean Robinson
- Welterweight – Vacant, last held by Sammy Antwi
- Super-Lightweight – Mikey Sakyi
- Lightweight – Jeffy Ofori
- Super Featherweight – Liam Dillon
- Featherweight – Vacant – board ordered Ramez Mahmood vs Jack Budge for the vacant title
- Super-Bantamweight – Duane Winters
- Bantamweight – Vacant
- Super-Flyweight – Ricky Little
- Flyweight – Vacant