Tyrone McKenna on why boxing doesn't always pay up
“I’m out at least five or six grand”
Imagine going to work for 11 weeks straight, forehead shining with sweat, elbows gleaming with grease, your back well and truly “put into it”, only to be told that you won’t be getting paid.
HR’s phone would be melting quicker than a microwaved Easter egg, strikes would be struck and unions furiously formed.
For professional boxers however, there are no insurance deals, contingency plans or Plan Bs of any description. If you don’t fight at the end of it all, then you don’t get paid.
West Belfast brawler Tyrone McKenna was supposed to be the co-main event on Saturday’s world title clash between Carl Frampton and Jamel Herring.
After 11 weeks of sparring, sprinting and dieting, he was told the morning of the fight that his opponent, Zhankosh Turarov had pulled out due to illness.
Not only did McKenna not get paid, but he lost out on “at least five or six grand spent on the training camp.”
“Camp is usually around eight to 10 weeks but there was a postponement early on that meant mine ended up being 11 weeks”, said the scrappy southpaw.
“That means for 11 weeks you’re paying for hotel costs, your nutritionist, travel up and down from Dublin, your meal-prep food and sparring partners. Even your fight shorts are around £600.”
It’s hard to not be envious of pampered footballers who get their kits washed, folded and handed to them before games free of charge - and they don’t even get punched in the face for it.
“There are no insurances put in place for boxers. There used to be the chance for a late replacement fight, but with COVID and everyone having to be in a bubble, you can’t do that anymore”, added McKenna.
“It’s always a gamble paying for camp, especially with COVID about, but you don’t want to underpay for training and not be as prepared as you should be for fight night.”
The bout is due to be rescheduled, but this will take at least two or three months meaning that both fighters will have to pay and endure the taxing brutality of yet another camp. The perplexed pugilist stated:
“I hate training. Fighting is the fun part and I didn’t even get to do that! I don’t mind sparring but the bagwork is hectic, I hate sprints and dieting is awful. I lost 13kg in 11 weeks and basically lived in a hotel away from my family the whole time.
“The money isn’t even the worst bit, it’s missing the chance to actually have a fight and get that belt."
Disappointment aside, McKenna will do what all fighters do and bite down on his gum shield, plant his feet and keep on swinging.