Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Why you should give Andy Murray’s musings on boxing a fair hearing.

Not many will have missed the very candid Murray Daily Mail piece.


Agreed with virtually all his thoughts on British Tennis and its lack of anything resembling a single, coherent ethos (versus diverging instances of several more transient ones).

My personal view remains that no amount of money or strategising will account for an essential lack of talent;  though he’s certainly right that a more enduring (non-exclusionary) tennis culture may just bring about the conditions in which we might at least aim to see the emergence of more top 100 players (the way, say, the French Federation has) rather than only one in the top five that also happens to be the greatest Open-Era player Britain’s produced.

There’s interesting anecdotes in relation to life on tour and EVEN his suggestion that how you deal with pressure is largely a function of how you’re built deserves a fair hearing (Though Wayne Rooney – of all people – as an example of world-class brilliance with similar “anger-management issues”? Something of an own goal).

By far the most unflinching, honest and introspective interview he’s ever given, but perhaps also one that does rather more to confirm rather than repudiate whatever opinion you may have of him.

We already know of his Boxing obsession – as many will tell you, there’s almost a sultry edge to it.

The notion of one-on-one combat as a metaphor for the confrontational and somewhat lonely nature of solo sport is one that either resonates with you or not.  In this paradigm, boxing serves as the purest possible formalisation of solo competition “stripped down to its bare essence” – as Murray has noted on several occasions, its risky and unforgiving nature ACTUALLY leaves you with “nowhere to hide”.

As an allegory, it can sometimes induce that romanticised, keenly felt, but rather vague melancholy found in some of those sporting "art-house" types who deem its accuracy both philosophically and aesthetically complete; in the rest, it seems to provoke amusement, snorts of derision, or simply that curious stasis in which very many eyes glaze over in unison very many times – though perhaps that's just the normal reaction to the sound of Murray’s voice waxing not-so-lyrically.

Where you sit on that divide is not so important, but I can’t help feeling that it’s rather harsh not to give his musings on boxing a fair hearing, if only because he’s actually been in (and emerged bloodied no less than three times from the wrong end of) that eye of the storm that exists at the highest levels of any sport – the solo nature of tennis only infuses it with further poignancy.

If boxing’s the paradigm that’s allowed Murray to unlock and organise some of his most charmingly confused thoughts, and to espouse some of the most cherished ideals of his sport, then so be it.

It’s truly not something those British ex-Players Murray makes a point of calling out will have ever experienced.

(Pic: Daily Mail)


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