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Why the Hitman and hurt is not for me

May 11th, 2009

When contemplating attending a boxing match, I did not consider the shame and fear in the eyes of the defeated. Had I done so I would not have gone.

Of course I know that I dislike violence but I imagined that I’d be more of the mind that boxing provides opportunity and discipline for young men that would otherwise be forced into careers as rat-catchers and rent boys. But as I watched an undercard bout at the MGM Grand before Ricky Hatton and Manny Pacquiao took to the ring I saw in the eyes of the lad on the ropes an identifiable dread.

The emotion that I’d feel if I found myself in a glittery, over-lit cavern, swirling moths lost in the abyss, greased and sweating whilst highly calibrated blows lanced my consciousness? Dread. A dread that would be exacerbated further if, through the headache being pummelled in from without, I glanced down to see I was wearing awful satin trunks.

Boxer shorts – the type of pants that bear that name are bad enough but at least they’re comparatively succinct next to those gleaming bloomers that actual boxers wear, which never cease. They begin at the ribs and merrily resolve only when they’ve transgressed the knee. Given that they’re called trunks they ought to be a little more truncated; currently they maraud across the pugilist’s form like Nazis.

Before Ricky Hatton enters, the chanting rolls down the raked seating, a tide of English din. The overtly American atmosphere of Las Vegas is temporarily rinsed away and with the belligerent “Kiss me quick – squeeze me slow” rancour of the horde I am reminded that really this place is not so different from Blackpool. “Walking in a Hatton wonderland” they sing, and their anthem is self-fulfilling for with each rendition the utopia is further augmented.

Amongst them I feel an uncommon surge of fraternity and patriotism. The people I was with were confident Americans but few would be reckless enough to challenge the sovereignty of the venue, so damn British that when, on Ricky’s arrival, the actual national anthem was played, I bloody well sang along. As much as I could because the lyrics are a bit obtuse. I get all the “noble Queen” and “send her victorious” stuff but the bit just before the first “God save our Queen”, which I just discovered is “long to reign over us”, has never breached my cognisance till now.

How many times have I been subjected, literally, to that bloody song and still the words are a mystery? I just looked them up: verse two includes the line “confound their knavish tricks” – that’s berserk. Do we really, as a nation, have to confound knavish tricks so frequently that it needed to be incorporated into our country’s theme tune? What a lot of rhubarb.

“The Dutch are planning a series of knavish tricks – only God, in conjunction with the Queen, can confound them. Stick it in the anthem.”

Nonetheless, in the highly jingoistic atmosphere of the MGM Grand I stood and sang along; I suppose because abroad one’s primal need to belong is enhanced and if boxing as a sport is one thing, it is primal. Men standing punching each other’s heads till one of their brains turns off.

Ricky Hatton is a lovely man and so it seems is Manny Pacquiao, the latter almost a statesman through his sport, and through their endeavour both men have achieved stature and dignity. For them to then become the hollering focus of a bawling, vicarious mob hate-wank is on the whole not a positive step for our spiritual evolution as a species.

I felt so sorry for Ricky as he went down, his pride temporarily undone. When I voice this most people gurgle up some cunk about the millions the fighters receive. I’m glad they’re well remunerated because in the moment where darkness closes in around the battered mind perhaps the money provides some compensation.

I don’t think I’ll go to boxing again. I’m not suggesting it be banned or that nothing positive comes from it because I know people whose lives have been positively touched by the sport. But I do think it celebrates aspects of our nature which ought be handled with caution and respect because we are ultimately animals and if we do not regard that then, oddly, our humanity is compromised.

That is why I love football – unifying, exciting, beautiful, significantly less violent (with one or two obvious exceptions) football. When football is played by the rules the only people who get hurt are the fans.

First published in The Guardian, Saturday 9th May 2009

This week’s Guardian column

April 12th, 2009

Read Russell’s latest column in the Guardian here

Guardian column

April 5th, 2009

A nod and a blink and Alan Shearer is Geordie Pope
Read Russell’s latest Guardian column here

Controversial blog

March 22nd, 2009

This website is turnin me awn. That is why I’m writing a controversial blog to celebrate. The international tour is over and I’m on holiday with Nik. We’re staying in the same suite with different rooms and are frantically trying to not seem gay. We asked to hire a car from the receptionist in a manner so butch that I could only have enhanced the masculinity were I to have rendered the request in piping hot, white winky water across a photo of a lawn mower.

Well. I’ve had nude photos of me printed in the paper – which is my gift to me Mum this mothering Sunday – “There you go Mum no flowers for you – a censorial fig leaf over your child’s genitals will be flora enough. Happy Mother’s day.”

I never really complain about invasions into my privacy because I consider it a tax that one pays for the privilege of doing a job that I love but this I must say is transgressive. Your sex organs are known as your “privates” with good reason – they are yours and their revelation ought be exclusively controlled by you – their owner. I can imagine some arsehole devil’s advocate saying “Russell Brand? He always goes on about dinkels and sex and that – he doesn’t deserve privacy” Well, there is a difference between whimsically musing on the nature of sexuality and stealing, covertly images of someone without their knowledge or consent.

Having seen the photos of me blearily awakening to open the dawn curtains to get some air, I’m not too troubled – I look slim and they have censored my willy – a blessing because there is an incredible variety of dimensions that the off-duty penis can assume. Post sexually, on the come down from activity, the lil’ fella can look a real tough guy – all glistening and bloated, or when there’s a whiff of how’s yer father he can become perky and inquisitive – but, of course, on occasion he may feel shy and listless; sullenly nestling in a pubic duvet as if the glory of sex were an unknowable land. Regardless of the state of my beloved, prize-winning dick-stick I offer no mitigation – only love. Such joy has been give to me by that daft appendage and, like the Royal family, he can’t answer back. God bless you M’am.

Now the controversial part… What is the pope on about “condoms make AIDS worse” that’s what he said. Not to worry he was probably only mucking around – he probably just said it alone in the mirror or whispered it into a shoe. No. He said it in front of 60,000 people in a football stadium in AFRICA – oh well that’s very responsible. Id feel guilty if I lied to one girl with that balderdash “I shan’t be wearing a condom tonight dear – it’ll only enhance the risk of AIDS. Also we’ll be doing it with your mum an all – it is mothers day.” Nuts! Then he said “Death will not defeat us, life will triumph over death, death will not have the final word.” I’m pretty sure death will have the final word. That is the one certainty in life – death. I don’t want to disparage Catholicism or offend it’s millions of followers but someone needs to look into that pointy white hat and check who’s driving because currently God’s anointed leader is a twaddle box.

In other news… Fritzl – obviously an awful case – OBVIOUSLY so I don’t want to seem glib – but… the other day in court he said two things that messed me up a bit. Here they are.

“Elizabeth exaggerated about the cellar”
“They always had plenty of food”

Ok. So what’s your point mate? That it was nice down there? That Elisabeth was somehow ungrateful for her life in a spacious coffin in which the “final word” of death would’ve been a welcome buzz? “That cellar was nice. It was warm – it was romantic – terrific mood lighting for the constant incestuous sex.” And as for this abundant delicious nosh he claims he was providing, I cant help but think it’d be scant consolation for the Grandkids who’d never seen daylight. “Oh no! Granddad/Dad is touching Mum/sister/cousin… again.” “Oh cheer up and have a hob-nob”

Stay with us in the “Wrong passage” I appreciate your comments, input and love and soon you’ll be able to contribute your own photos, clips and feelings.

Ta ta comrades