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The Fight Game 1963

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Ewan MacColl 1915 - 1989
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The Ballad of John Axon 1957
Song of a Road 1958
Singing the Fishing 1959
The Big Hewer 1960
The Body Blow 1961
On the Edge 1962
The Fight Game 1963
The Travelling People 1964
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The Song Of Steel
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Ballad of the Big Ships

thefightgame.jpg

album Release Date 1967

Given the social relevance of the other radio ballads, on the surface The Fight Game seems as if it could be lightweight and indulgent. In point of fact, it proves to be a very weighty topic indeed, drawing on comments from fighters, trainers, and managers to offer a comprehensive portrait of a sport where the boxers themselves are simply people using the only skill they possess to escape the trap of poverty -- a fact true for so many sportsmen across the globe (as one of the participants says, "Have you ever seen a millionaire's son in the ring?"). But they're exploited at every turn -- the litany of a manager taking 20 percent of a fighter's earnings is repeated often. Examining why boys become boxers -- often through the encouragement of fathers who would beat them if they didn't fight back or through a laissez faire playground culture at school -- to the way they train, it's engrossing, the mix of music and soundbites forming a complete documentary mosaic. It all inevitably culminates in the weighing-in, the anticipation and nerves in the dressing room, and the big fight itself, which ends in either victory or blinding defeat. It's a place without a middle ground, with room only for winners and losers. For all the heartbreak, however, and the real riches only going to a rare few, those who'd been in the fight game looked back on it fondly. These aren't the heavyweight champions, the famous names, either. They're the lowly men who toiled on bills around Britain on a Friday night, picking up income from bouts as an alternative to working in a factory or going to prison, and they're treated here with respect and sympathy. The Fight Game (whose musical theme comes from the use of trumpets throughout) shines a light on something not often seen, the life and times of the barely professional boxer, and in doing so it makes a strong statement about society and the culture of channeled violence and spectator sports. Call it heavyweight, in the very best sense of the word

1. 'Twas In Tierra Del Fuege In South Amerikay
 
2. There's A Game Some Call The Fight Game
 
3. Boxing To Me, Is The Greatest Character-Builder In The World
 
4. Come All You Gallant Fighting Men
 
5. Come On Johnny, And Put 'Em Up Johnny
 
6. When You're A Fighter, You're Different
 
7. Then Come On, Strip Off Young Johnny Boy
 
8. I Like All My Boxers To Be Perfect Skippers
 
9. When You're Training
 
10. There's Such A Helluva Lot Of Work To Be Done
 
11. The Programme Is Set Up
 
12. Who Would Have A Boxer For A Husband
 
13. You Get To The Hall
 
14. On My Right, The Champion, Johnny Boy
 
15. What'll We Do With The Man In The The Ring?
 
16. Johnny, Johnny, You Failed Us
 
17. I Don't Think You Can Call Boxing A Sport

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