Brian Edwards Media

I risk deportation by using the S-word to describe Sonny Bill Williams


I read that the punters were dissatisfied with the Sonny Bill Williams/Clarence Tillman III fight for the New Zealand Heavyweight Boxing Championship. There were apparently two reasons for their dissatisfaction: that neither boxer merited being in contention for the Championship at all; and that the fight was over in 2 minutes 54 seconds. I can’t judge the validity of their first complaint. But I do understand their annoyance at the brevity of the bout. After all, if you’ve paid up to $100 to be ringside or almost $40 to watch the match on Sky, you’re surely entitled to see two men beating the crap out of one another for at least 20 minutes.

As for Sonny Bill, even I can see that he’s a brilliant footie player, but ‘brilliant’ is not a term you can apply to anyone interested in a career in professional boxing. 

 There have been, it seems to me, two reasons for such an ambition:

The historical reason was that ‘the noble art’ offered an escape from poverty and despair.  Fame and fortune might await the most talented.

The second reason is stupidity. Without some pressing financial imperative, you really have to be stupid to voluntarily decide on a career which requires you to regularly receive heavy blows to the body and head and, on occasion, to be knocked unconscious. Sonny Bill Williams has, to my knowledge, no such pressing financial imperative. On that basis – and though I realise this is as close as you can come to heresy in this country at the moment – the man is an idiot.

I’m not, of course, in a neutral corner on the topic of boxing. I’m repulsed by it as I’m repulsed by the goons and furies on their feet in the dying moments of a contest, baying for their champion to fell his staggering, half-conscious, often bloodied opponent. You are not civilised, ladies and gentlemen. Which is considerably worse than being stupid.

 [If you’re unconvinced that the desire for a career as a professional boxer indicates stupidity, have a look at my earlier post: The Ignoble Sport of Boxing.]

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  1. Agree with you on the subject of boxing, Brian. It’s vile. Can’t understand why the hell anyone thinks it’s entertainment. As for SBW, well, he’s the male equivalent of a Barbie doll isn’t it? Women don’t swoon over him for his superior intellect.

  2. So what if it’s not for his superior intellect. I don’t think I know a woman who has swooned over a man for his intellect. Can’t think of heart throb that has superior intellec. SBW comes from a working class family and boxing family. His grandfather was a NZ champion. I’m not into blood sports either so I don’t watch them, however lots of people are and if they choose to box, that’s fine with me. I am more disgusted and angered by dog fighting than boxing as they dont choose.

    BE: “I don’t think I know a woman who has swooned over a man for his intellect.” That’s rather sad. Quite a few women have ‘swooned over” me for my intellect, though not recently, I admit. Of course I also had a good sense of humour, a sort of Tom Courtney vulnerability and was better looking than Quasimodo, so that may have helped.

    Of course I may be wrong. Women may prefer a toned body and tattoos to intellect and wit but that, I would have thought, was a reflection more on them than on the men concerned.

  3. watched his interview at the weigh-in the day before the game, with the bit of biffo – SBW’s language is excruciating – he comes across as .as .. stupid

  4. Apart from any of your other points,I would not describe SBW as a brilliant ‘footie’ player,at least not with Rugby.He was underwhelming in the RWC.I hear he is rumoured to be returning to League back in Aussie and that is the best place for him.

    BE: You may well be right. I’m no expert of rugby, union or league, and have no wish to be.

  5. I agree entirely wiith Brian, so maybe I am also in danger of deportation. The man is an inarticulate cretin, and it appears likely that the sort of women who “swoon” over him are what used to be called floozies.

  6. Whats worse is SBW’s opponent appears pregnant!

  7. It’s one thing to say a man is stupid because he chooses to box. That is a reasonable stance to take based on what we know about the sport and is a criticism of a choice.

    Its another to call him stupid or cretinous – as a couple of comments have quickly done – because he doesn’t talk particularly well. To my mind that is pompous and arrogant.

    And for what its worth I have only ever seen him express his views quietly and reasonably and with a fair amount of dignity.

    BE: I think that’s a reasonable comment, Old Tony. My observation related to the stupidity of taking up professional boxing.

  8. “BE: You may well be right. I’m no expert of rugby, union or league, and have no wish to be”.




    Actually, I think most hard-core sober-minded followers of both codes are dismissive of SBW’s boxing achievements.

    However, as both Rugby and League (more-so, League) are “minor” sports in the wider international sporting/media/marketing sphere, there is a plateau to the amount SBW can earn. Granted, it is a plateau most of us would be very happy with, but obviously not SBW or his management. But boxing lifts that plateau, and widens the potential endorsements: –

    And as it is his braincells and decision, good luck to him.

    However, if his boxing in any way undermines his ability as a rugby player, or compromises the performance of his teams, especially the All Blacks, then I predict he will quickly become damaged goods that will make Kim Kardashian look like a monument to marital rectitude and sobriety!

    NZ rugby supporters are tolerant of non-participant unbelievers like yourself, Brian. But when you start affecting the national game, especially from the inside, that is when folks break out the pitch forks and torches, and the witch hunts begin!

    But hey! – I don’t make the rules. I just report them!

  9. SBW may be many things but he is not stupid. He knows his worth and with his manager markets himself expertly.

    The fact that there are sufficent numbers of those who truly are stupid and prepared to pay SBW’s wages is not his fault.

    BE: I would not of course wish it on him, but if SBW pursues a professional boxing career, particularly in the heavyweight class, the chances of him sustaining a brain injury are significantly increased. What his female fans regard as his good looks may also not go unscathed. I can find nothing sensible in choosing to go down this particular career path.

  10. Yes I agree there are only two reasons why anyone would want to take up a career in boxing. I assume that SBW and his advisers have done a little homework on the long term effects of being bashed repeatedly in the head when there isn’t any pressing need to do it. As an example of a person who did have a need to do it and has paid for it, have they looked at Muhammad Ali lately? He was gorgeous once too.

  11. I think its likely that he lets himself be talked into harebrained schemes by Khoder Nasser, his agent. Perhaps Mr Nasser is the new Colonel Tom Parker? God help us all if he next turns to beach party movies…

  12. Good on SBW and anyone silly enough to buy-in to his money making. However I really think this discussion can be better directed at the evils of advertising and marketing. If you are fool enough to buy into wanting to watch something this shallow more fool you. We are bombarded on just about every level of media to buy/watch/be interested in too much meaningless and un-needed crap. This ‘fight’ is just another example of why I listen to national radio and avoid TV whenever I can

  13. Brian, your comments about women to Odette are simply spot on, but to BW Ben you refer to the liklihood of Funny Money Bill suffering a brain injury as being significantly increased. I’m not quite sure he has the capacity to achieve this.

    Boxing is a legitimate sport as far as I can see but it’s also an art which one can’t simply pick up at 20 just because one can imagine oneself succeeding in it: one needs to start at age 10. Williams’ opponents to date have been fat old hairdressers well past their use by date who would have no hope of surviving a scrap outside a Porirua pub on a Friday night.

    Sadly the man’s focus on the Noble Art has indicated a lack of absolute focus on his other fancies: he certainly can’t be accused of covering himself in glory in any aspect of rugby, nor has he shown himself to more than merely competent in league.

    When the lad make a decision and spends a few years working at it, I’m sure we’ll have a formidable sportsman on our hands.

  14. You’re just jealous!

    Sally Ridge has got her motherly priorities, right: offering her daughter on the Vanity Altar to the paparazzi.

    BE: Jealous? Of what?

  15. The clip of the fight that I saw showed SBW’s opponent to be no boxer. Wild swinging haymakers are not boxing moves. Farce.

  16. As for sex appeal perhaps Sonny has some by virtue of his physique and his self-confidence. But this on the Herald at the end of the “John Key has greatest sex appeal” item.
    “And 53 per cent of the 1076 surveyed said a candidate’s sex appeal was a factor when they decided whom to vote for.”
    Sonny Bill for PM! Sure bet!

  17. Oh please, spare us your (jealous?) snobbery! Ideally women would prefer both, but you take what you can get, natch. Being an old man confers certain wisdom but it also means you forget things, Mr. Edwards. And here I think you have forgotten what hormones in the salad days (and slightly wilted) of youth are all about.

    Like fox hunting, falconry, fencing (as in sword fighting, not strainers and posts -although a nice straight fence is not to be sneezed at as an object of beauty) and bull fighting, modern boxing comes from a time when it was much more widely acknowledged than today that there exists in violence aesthetic aspects of bravery, style and technique. Within the lifetimes of some of our grandparents courage was commonly regarded as THE supreme human virtue, certainly a far superior virtue to mere intellect. You cannot understand much of history if you don’t understand that central fact. Alexander the Great wasn’t regarded as great because he left an organised philosophy of government as his legacy. He is “Great” because he remains the supreme example of genius and courage in violence, the best and bravest warrior amongst very violent and brave warriors. Alexander made sure he riding point for the decisive cavalry charge and he was always where the fighting was at its most fierce. For that, he is still the most famous (apart from Jesus) man of antiquity. Remember, rapid technological change and the rule of law are very recent – less than two hundreds old. It has only been in the last century or so that technical knowledge has been of much use, let alone considered even as an equally desirable personality trait to physical courage and skill at violence.

    I dislike boxing. But I’ve been on a couple of fox hunts in the U.K. so I’d be a hypocrite to condemn boxing, since it would only be on grounds of class – as pointed out, pugilism is the brutal sport of choice for the poor, the rich simply get to exercise a greater degree of expensive ritual in celebrating the same values by riding to hounds. Boxing (and fox hunting) celebrate values that are now deeply out of fashion in a world where supposedly reason, rationalism and intellect reign supreme. It is easy to forget that the personal and cultural values of our time are just that – of our time. They are not immutable. If people want to engage in boxing, fight bulls or hunt foxes then it isn’t my place to arrogantly presume to tell them they can’t.

    BE: It’s some time since I’ve read such overblown and unadulterated rubbish. Your argument seems to be that we should be forgiving of past slaughter because earlier societies had different values. Indeed we should admire the ‘courage’ of past slaughterers. Your only sensible thought is that ‘if people want to engage in boxing… it isn’t my place to tell them they can’t.’ But, even then, I would consider it a kindness to discourage friends, relatives or any of my children or grandchildren from taking up professional boxing. Their brains are too valuable to put at risk.

    As for fox hunting and, in particular, bull-fighting, if it’s your position that we should keep our opinions to ourselves on the grotesque cruelty that is imposed on these animals in the interests of excitement or entertainment, then you and I have absolutely no common ground in matters of morality. But then I knew that already.

  18. Since you have ceased using shampoo to wash your hair, I sure SBW will soon have a rival in the girl swooning department.

  19. Ben I am up to day 13 of soap/shampoo free hair. And should I expect an influx of swooning wenches fondling my silky hair? Please?

  20. difference between bull fights/fox hunting and boxing is the competitors in a boxing contest are willing participants (even though they might be too stupid to accurately assess the risks involved)

  21. Your statement, included amongst your many youthful attributes, “and was better looking than Quasimodo” could be interpreted to mean that this is no longer true. My case rests, Your Honour.

  22. Patience, Ianmac, patience

  23. I share your opinions on boxing in general, but not in this instance. SBW (who decided he should be commonly known by his initials?) is not stupid, although his fans IMHO may well be.

    He has little chance of brain injury when he enters the ring in ridiculous stage managed mismatches like this. It is not sport, it is entertainment, similar to professional wrestling, and if some people choose to give a few dollars to enrich SBW and his promoter in return for the sight of a sham boxing match thats their business.

    BE: I deal with the difference between boxing and wrestling in my earlier piece on boxing. Have a look.

  24. The real “idiot” is the one who pays — ringside or Sky — to watch SBW line up against a fat, no-good stumblebum.

    Really, your ire should be directed against the promoters who’ve slithered out from the ‘Don King School of Shameless Hucksters’.

    BE: Your argument seems to be contradictory. Why should I be angry with promoters who take advantage of people you describe as ‘real idiots’. A case of caveat emptor surely.

  25. Why is Sonny Bill’s opponent, Clarence Tillman, an “American based in Auckland”? (I quote from somewhere in the media). What’s that about?

  26. “…Your argument seems to be that we should be forgiving of past slaughter because earlier societies had different values…”

    Is the idea that past times and cultures might have had different values to ours really that hard to grasp? I would have thought judging people and societies by the standards of their time to be hardly revolutionary thinking.

    “…Indeed we should admire the ‘courage’ of past slaughterers…”

    You know, I admire the courage of Japanese kamikaze pilots. That doesn’t mean I think the rape of Nanking was fine.

    “…As for fox hunting and, in particular, bull-fighting, if it’s your position that we should keep our opinions to ourselves on the grotesque cruelty that is imposed on these animals in the interests of excitement or entertainment, then you and I have absolutely no common ground in matters of morality…”

    I am not interested in your morality. The trouble is, you seem very interested in regulating everyone elses. What is the difference between killing a bull in the ring in thirty minutes and spending four hours with a Marlin on the line as it fights for its life? Unless you demand the banning of all forms of killing for pleasure then your objections are purely quibblings over the cultural acceptability of the method of dispatch. And as for banning hunting – good luck with trying to convince the most lethal apex predator that has ever evolved of the wisdom of that! For you, killing a mighty fish for pleasure is morally repugnant. That is a fine and totally legitimate moral position to take. That guy over there yipping and yeehaaing with his 300kg marlin up on a block and tackle has no such moral objection. I accept that. I might not like his catching a marlin, but I am not going to ban it then prosecute him for his moral wickedness.

  27. BE: “Your argument seems to be contradictory”.

    Not at all. Sometimes, drongos need protecting from themselves.

  28. “Clarence Tillman, an American based in Auckland” What’s that about?,,,, ??? Hello… Are you there? Taking a big step this possibly means Clarence Tillman is an American based in Auckland.

  29. Equally stupid in my opinion is TVNZ and particularly the sychophantic reporter (cant remember his name) they sent out to cover the pre fight antics. The star crossed reporter’s swooning over SBW was cringe making. He left me with the impression that he was competing with Ridge’s daughter for SBW affection and attention.

    In addition to this TVNZ’s decision to play the interview as a major news item on whatever night it was, not once but several times, was outrageous. It was nothing more than a promo for the fight.

    It was certainly not ‘news’.

    I suspect that TVNZ have a deal with Sky whereby they got some commercial benefit from the fight.

  30. Come on Rick , you can do better than that :)

    I’ll re-phrase just for you: how come a washed-up ageing American boxer got residency here? Just so he can make Sonny Bill look good? When are we all going to wake up to this bullshit?

  31. many people box and it always seems a big set up and the spectators must be pretty stupid if they don’t realize this. i think they do – and they just want to be part of the action in their own safe and leering way.
    talking boxing because its sonny bill williams involved must mean (eek!)he’s turned your head too, brian.

  32. Some punters may have been “dissatisfied”, but many women were very satisfied.

  33. yeah, dundee, yeah. i think you’re right.

  34. There’s an S-word for Sonny Bill all right – showboat. Hell, Muhammed Ali was also a showboat, but at least he backed it up with *real* boxing.