Dillian Whyte picks top 5 heavyweights in world
By Benjamin Thomsett: Dillian Whyte says the top five heavyweights in the World are Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury, Joseph Parker, and himself. And he says Tyson Fury is ‘..a joker, he’s a mess, mentally and physically, he’s irrelevant right now…. If he wants a real fight, I am here, let’s get it on in December.’
From a guy who used to be friendly with the Fury family back when Peter Fury was Tyson’s Trainer, these were either ill-considered lazy words, or simply the overproduced testosterone of someone who has been shown their value on a contract and has let their ego work their mouth. In the current climate of trying to quash the stigma associated with mental health problems in sport, and in life in general, is Dillian worth listening to?
Dillian has come a long way since that plucky loss to AJ back in the Christmas of 2015. The fight had been hyped as a grudge match and was sold with the lead line ‘Bad Intentions’. Carefully paraded and poured over footage of the knockdown Joshua had taken from Dillian back when both of them were dodging the dodgy life, surfaced. People started to choose sides. Not many gave Whyte a chance. He was an ex-kickboxer slugger. Just a bully who got a licence to whip on someone without expecting a visit from the law afterwards. The O2 Arena crowd lapped up the fight. The man we’d been told was the good guy, won. The hype had worked and the happy ending had played out. We were entertained. The PR machine went back into its gilded box and counted every single dollar squeezed from the punters, and it thought, ‘Without me, you are nothing.’
Dillian set about training properly and he moved up the rankings. He deserved it. Matchroom guided his rebirth and now he’s a contender. A genuine one at that. And the money is starting to roll in.
But what do you do when there’s no PR, no hype, and you don’t have an expensive car to ride home in regardless of the result? What happens when you have to fight for more than putting bread on the table, when you have to fight knowing there’ll be nobody interested in anything you have to say about your peers?
Salamo Arouch was a Greek Jew. He died in 2009. You may have heard of him. You may not. He is important because he knew more than anyone at Matchroom about fighting without PR. He knew more about humility than Dillian Whyte, too. He was also, possibly, the bravest and toughest boxer/fighter I’ve ever come across in all my years of following the sport.
Arouch was picked up by the Nazis and taken, with his family, to Auschwitz during World War Two. I’m sure none of you reading this can equate that experience to anything in your life. I know I can’t. I won’t do Salamo’s memory an injustice by telling the whole story and mangling it up – look it up for yourselves, there’s even a 1989 film starring Willem Defoe – but during his time in Auschwitz he was forced to box/fight literally for his life. Two hundred and eight bouts (by his reckoning) against men sometimes nearly twice his weight. But rather than having the luxury of slagging off his opponents and mocking mental health problems from the lobby of a posh hotel as you wind up interest in your next fight, Arouch knew before each bout that the loser would be shot. He simply worked in the camp offices, ate what he could, saw his entire family be gassed or shot, and readied himself for the next guy to be placed in front of him. Imagine that.
After the war, Arouch gave motivational speeches and set up sports clubs for youths in the newly formed state of Israel. Despite the film (where he acted as a consultant) and the growing knowledge of his story, he apparently lived out his life as a modest and stoic man.
But where does this all leave me, you, and Dillian Whyte? Well, I guess you could say that some people struggle to be kind despite being afforded luxury. Or maybe you could argue that respect is something you can’t use a boxing promoter to generate for you? Whatever.
“Some of us will be long forgotten before we are even dead. Most will never be remembered at all.”
― Paul Bamikole