IN this week’s edition of Boxing News magazine in a special feature Don Stradley examines the phenomenon of athletes from other sports looking to do a Conor McGregor and get into boxing. Here’s an exclusive extract:
CONOR MCGREGOR, of course, is hardly the first thrill seeker with some boxing in his background to think about trying his luck at the professional level. The worst of them, and by no means is he comparable to McGregor, was probably Arthur Cravan, an eccentric poet and magazine publisher. In the spring of 1916, Cravan gloved up in a Barcelona bullring to meet no less than former world heavyweight champion Jack Johnson. Cravan, who was strongly built and had received a bit of boxing training, spent five farcical rounds covered up in a kind of standing fetal position. When Johnson grew bored, he dropped Cravan in the sixth. A peer of Cravan’s, poet Blaise Cendrars, wrote that Johnson “stretched him out cold with a formidable punch to the left ear, a blow worthy of a slaughterhouse.”
McGregor might fare a little better than some poet with a death wish. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Reports of McGregor sparring at the Wild Card gym in Los Angeles were not exactly glowing; clips of him hitting a heavy bag weren’t inspiring, either. He’s brilliant in MMA, and he’s more of a puncher than most cage grapplers, but his days of being an All-Ireland boxing champion at the youth level were long ago.