Irish-Boxing.com statement on MTK Global Boycott

Irish-Boxing.com is a few months away from being legally able to drink.

This Summer we turn 18. For the last 18 years we have strived to promote the sport we love to the best of our ability.

The site’s previous writers, editors, and contributors have worked hard to give a sport that doesn’t get anywhere near enough coverage, a platform from which to promote itself. The present team of two have tried to uphold that approach and our remit is to give every fighter and show coverage akin to a world champion or world title fight night.

In its teenage years, the site has grown accordingly sprouting to the degree that we had almost 900,000 visitors sharing just short of 2.5 million page views between them last year. Our words are read worldwide, with the UK, Australia, and America accounting for a large proportion of our traffic.

To be able to share news on Irish boxing with so many people around the globe fills us with pride. The site still doesn’t generate enough income to pay one person a living wage, yet two people currently work full time, seven days a week spreading the Irish-Boxing gospel.

Cutting our coverage
Up and until now we were fueled by the knowledge that our efforts were crucial to the promotion of the game – particularly at the lower level – as well as the fact we are respected among the boxing family and had the gratitude of those within the sport.

Yesterday we were hurt to be informed we were banned by one management outlet from working with their stable.

Management outfit Mack The Knife Global – who represent over 30 Irish fighters – have boycotted all media from the Republic of Ireland. As Irish-Boxing.com is currently based in Dublin, we fall victim to this.

We have never ever been barred from covering any fighters from any stable. While we understand that MTK’s decision to issue a blanket ban to Irish media isn’t a direct attack on us – and we have never been made aware of any personal issue they have had with us – we still find it hard to understand.

It certainly isn’t for us to tell any promoter which media outlet to work with – and we would never preach in that regard – but we are surprised and deflated we are included in any boycott.

MTK have called for ‘#fairnews’ – but we would ask when have we been unfair. Indeed we feel the indiscriminate ban of all media from the Republic of Ireland regardless of their content is in itself extremely unfair.

Why us?
We report on the sport of boxing and solely the sport of boxing. As we have said previously we consider every Irish fighter as an equal in terms of the coverage they deserve and give the same time to a debutant as we do to a world champion – granted there can be more to report on in terms of big fights but the remit and mission statement is the same.

We apply the same standard to promoters and managers. So in that regard, we can’t understand what we have done to justify being boycotted bar the fact we are currently based a one hour drive south of Newry.

Again, it’s not our place to tell any promoter who to work with media-wise, but this boycott hurts the site to the degree where it further threatens our livelihoods and the continued existence of the platform – a platform which we believe has been one of the lifebloods of the sport in this country and can now no longer work to its full capacity.

Due to this boycott, we can no longer give around 25% of the Irish fighters the coverage we feel they deserve – and coverage we know is helpful.

A mutually beneficial relationship
We respect MTK’s achievements in boxing in such a short space of time and we see the benefit their existence has had for so many fighters, not to mention ourselves up until yesterday. We have enjoyed and relished the increased pro numbers, increased number of shows, and their influence has contributed to bringing Frank Warren and Matchroom to Belfast.

We like to believe our coverage has been greatly beneficial to the Irish fighters in their stable, a reciprocal relationship that up until yesterday was assumed to be as strong as ever.

Fighters from the stable who are not yet at a stage of their career to warrant wider coverage or mainstream press have benefitted from Irish-Boxing.com, promoting themselves, generating interest, and even just as simple as getting to grips with being interviewed. Indeed some now established and semi-established names could only get press with this site in the early stages of their careers and, through winning, their hard work in the gym, and the profile the site helped build, they are now in a position where they are starting to get mainstream media and even TV attention.

The site we feel has also played a massive role in building and creating an interest in all-Irish fights. Like with a host of fights put on by other promoters, there are certain fights involving MTK boxers that were not even on the radar but made intriguing to the fan and as such viable for TV by back and forths and discussions on Irish-Boxing.com.

Any boycott prevents that from happening to a degree now and thus we feel it hurts the sport in Ireland as well as us – starting tomorrow night.

How the boycott hurts Irish-Boxing.com
We are this weekend not allowed attend the ‘Danger at The Devenish 3’ card in Belfast which is officially promoted by MTK’s Johnney Roye while the event itself is being run by Mark Ginley. In solidarity with MTK – who have managed 20 of the 21 home fighters on his bills so far and seven of the 10 home fighters tomorrow – Ginley has today confirmed that, while there is nothing personal, he will be employing this boycott at the show.

As an example of Irish-Boxing.com’s coverage of the smaller side of the game, of the three Ginley Promotions shows so far, we are the only Republic of Ireland media to have attended any of the cards, having attended all three. Indeed we are the only written media to have been at all three and were even the only written media at all at the ‘Danger at The Devenish 1’ show in September. Our coverage of those shows was more than fair. 

In that regard, in terms of the media, this boycott only hurts us. None of the written press boycotted by the ban had any intention of covering this weekend’s event or giving publicity to the show or the fighters involved.

Again we have no right or intention to tell MTK who they should deal with in the press nor do we feel the boycott is personal to us. However, from a PR side, we do think it’s futile and counterproductive.

In our opinion, both us and the Irish fighters – particularly novice punchers who don’t warrant big media coverage – are the ones to be hurt most. The brilliant boxing writers across the island have all been hampered, even those North of the border have been put in an awkward position, but still when we break it down it appears we are the most affected both on a personal and financial level.

How the boycott hurts Irish fighters
Irish-Boxing.com is proud to offer niche coverage. In terms of the fighters, those turning over without big names or who ‘only’ harbour, for example, Irish title ambitions – the only press they are guaranteed is this site. Some of the more media savvy ones will get local press, which we always encourage but, outside of that, they are unfortunately of no interest to mainstream media. They then can use our site to help build a profile, namedrop potential opponents and sell themselves to sponsors and so forth.

The next stage, as they begin to impress on bills is for the likes of the great Gerry Callan, Gavan Casey, and Eamonn Carr to pick up an interest and give said fighters the chance to speak to the casual fan.

That pathway is now gone – and again those fighters and ourselves are the only ones hurt as mainstream media are not interested in said boxers.

The boycott won’t work
In terms of mainstream Republic of Ireland media, the boycott will pose little, if any, issue. The majority will still get copy from MTK fighters. Said papers’ Northern Irish correspondents will be allowed attend press conferences and fight nights, and the copy they get will be on offer to and be published by their southern wings.

Also for the boxers they will be interested in, there will be enough information and quotes to be taken from online, TV, and social media for them to still be able to cover the small few MTK fighters whom they have an interest in.

However, the fighters – especially from the greater Dublin area – who won’t be on TV and are not of interest to the wider press will be hurt massively, losing coverage from likes of Irish-Boxing.com, the42.ie, The Herald, local papers, and social media platforms like ‘Irish Boxers’.

Mainstream media won’t only find a way around the boycott when they see fit, they also have a variety of other sports to cover and, considering the relatively sparse coverage of boxing already, they won’t be overly damaged by any boycott.

However, this site hasn’t that luxury nor has it the resources to sustain itself without staying true to our blanket coverage model.

While we will still cover MTK boxers in terms of fight news and fight reports, we must respect their wishes with regards interviewing their boxers – thus creating a gaping hole in our coverage.

In that regard, we feel the media platform that works hardest for the sport and arguably benefits it the most will be the most negatively affected by the boycott.

Once more, it’s not our place to tell MTK who they should deal with media wise, but we do feel we have an obligation to Irish boxing as a whole, the site, our readers and the people who put so much effort into promoting the sport here for less than the minimum wage so we needed to explain things from our side.

We don’t view it as a fall-out, we hold no grudge, we are just deeply saddened.

Jonny Stapleton and Joe O’Neill
Irish-Boxing.com Editors

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Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years