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“The Government’s making this country piss"... and other observations before the main event

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Anthony Mundine and Danny Green want you all to know that they don’t like each other very much.

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They’ve been quite clear on this point.

The hard-sell for boxing matches is an art that showcases all the subtlety and diplomacy of a tweet by Donald Trump.

An apt strategy, perhaps, for a sport which involves two protagonists punching each other in the head, repeatedly.

It’s an approach that differs from most team sporting events, ahead of which participants tend to do their utmost to outdo each other on diffidence and humility, generally adhering to the age-old cliché that the victory will belong to the better team on the day.

No such equivocation, though, in the violent arts.

Boxers are a braggadocious breed. Witness ‘The Man’ Mundine’s understated claim this week to be “the most flamboyant, charismatic, diverse, explosive athlete there has ever been in this country – ever”.

Boxer Anthony Mundine at the official weigh-in at the Adelaide oval in Adelaide, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. Danny Green and Anthony Mundine have both made the weight for Friday night's fight in Adelaide. (AAP Image/David Mariuz) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

THE GREATEST? Anthony Mundine at yesterday’s official weigh-in at Adelaide Oval. Photo: David Mariuz / AAP

There is well-documented history between these two pugilists, so one can never tell where the exaggerated showmanship ends and the genuine disdain begins.

But for the purposes of tonight’s entertainment, let’s be in no doubt: they don’t like each other.

The Adelaide Oval showcase has enjoyed a dream pre-bout bout of publicity, predicated on both boxers dutifully playing their roles with the preliminary persiflage, including largely-confected controversy over the alleged inherent racism in the national anthem, prompting seemingly endless questions about whether Advance Australia Fair would play, and if so when, and who would be present and in what state of recline.

While this may have been inspired by a long antipathy to Australia’s national ditty, which became as much in 1984 after a 1977 referendum, it follows closely on the heels of a similar fracas in the US, inspired by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for The Star-Spangled Banner, citing ongoing oppression of African-Americans and other minorities.

“Do your research on the anthem, do your research,” Mundine urged this week, perhaps referring to the earliest drafts of the 19th century-penned tune which were less about sharing boundless plains and more about rousing to arms against “foreign foes” who “dared a foot to land”, with plenty of Rah Britannia triumphalism thrown in.

Mundine’s own research, though, best we can tell, may be limited to reading the current incarnation of the lyrics.

“We’re young, we’re free,” he scoffed to reporters. “We are far from young… and a lot of us ain’t free.”

The respective combatants’ personas through the week’s build-up appear to mimic their style in the ring: Mundine is quick and unpredictable, Green staid but strong.

While neither fighter is a spring chicken, Green at 43 is the senior of the two, by two years (although Mundine insists his recent training regime has him “feeling 20 again”).

The Western Australian veteran’s rhetoric has been more deliberate, more reflective, more literal.

You can’t scratch your own arse without someone saying ‘you can’t do that’ – and it’s your own arse!

While Mundine wants to make political statements, Green is unequivocal – he just wants to punch his opponent hard in the face.


But he is also cognisant of what the fight means – culturally and economically – for Adelaide, and frank about the financial motivation (as opposed to the hyped ‘grudge match’) that drives him back to the ring –while, of course, keeping pace with the trash-talk.

“As a fighter you want worldwide recognition, you want that respect [of your peers], that’s what you fight for and I’m pretty happy that I’ve got that… ‘Choc’ hasn’t,” he told PickStar’s Off-Field podcast, hosted by Andrew Montesi and James Begley, whose Rooster Radio podcast is published regularly on InDaily.

“He’s got no respect… the recognition comes [from] what he says, not what he does, not who he fights.”

Green concedes while the fight is “huge in Australia”, it “won’t bookend my career, that’s for sure”.

“I just want to slam him,” he delicately enthuses.

“And do what a lot of people want to do,” he diplomatically adds.

Green is an interesting case study of the pugilist as competitor and commodity. He knows the money – reputedly as much as $10 million for each boxer – is a key motivator.

“As a prize fighter you fight for the biggest prize,” he says.

“You don’t get punched in the face for nothing.”

That’s why, he says, he handles his own promotion, because “I’m the one taking the punishment”.

“I’m the one bringing the crowd [so] I’ll take the lion’s share.”

Green, the ‘Machine’ in this ‘Man v Machine’ duel, lurches seamlessly from cogent analysis of the fight as a revenue-raiser and tourism promoter for the state to bitter invective about the current state of the nation.

In one breath he defends the State Government’s involvement in the event, saying “we know it’s going to be successful and beneficial to the SA Government”.

“The money they’ve invested, they’ll recoup that, so it’s all fine,” he insists.

“It’s about heads on beds, people spending money in the city, going to hotels, shops… as far as the exposure you couldn’t put a price on the amount of dollars that it would’ve cost to have the exposure on Adelaide Oval, the city of Adelaide.”

It’s a rhetorical cadence that almost channels the practised air of (gasp) a politician.

Except that in the next breath he rails against broader Government intervention on Australia’s character and liberties, lamenting that “the whole world’s becoming sanitised”.

It’s not quite the niche ideological cause of his opponent, more a general gripe about ‘the good old days’.

“You can’t scratch your own arse without someone saying ‘you can’t do that’ – and it’s your own arse!” he observes.

Australian boxer Danny Green is seen during a training session in Melbourne, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017. Green will fight old foe Anthony Mundine at Adelaide Oval on February 4, more than 10 years after their first fight in Sydney in 2006, won by Mundine in a unanimous points decision. (AAP Image/Alex Murray) NO ARCHIVING

ORDINARY BLOKE: Danny Green training in Melbourne last month. Photo: Alex Murray / AAP

“It makes me sick… the diggers that fought and lost their lives to save the way of life this country’s had, [and] it’s changing and eroding – and it sickens me to the core.

“The Government’s making this country piss – it drives me nuts!”

Perhaps, of course, it’s all part of Green’s ‘Everyman’ appeal, as he insists: “I’m just a regular bloke.”

Just a regular bloke “looking forward to being victorious and going out there and pumping this bloke in a packed Adelaide Oval”.

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