Paul Lewis: Council give themselves an uppercut over Joseph Parker fight

Paul Lewis says "give yourselves an uppercut" to all those who were against Auckland hosting Joseph Parker's title fight. Photo / Photosport
Paul Lewis says "give yourselves an uppercut" to all those who were against Auckland hosting Joseph Parker's title fight. Photo / Photosport

Memo: all those who went blue in the face and started spitting invective when they heard public money might be tipped into Duco Events' efforts to have the Joseph Parker-Andy Ruiz heavyweight boxing bout in Auckland.

Message: Give yourselves an uppercut. At the time of writing, Ateed have been scared off by the political noise and the event could now be held in the US. What a prissy, dried-up, little lot we are.

Some complained about the propriety of government money from the Major Events Fund going to a hyped sport whose many millions of dollars seem an embodiment of capitalist extremism. They probably didn't know the fund is already giving $1.5m to the 2017 Rotorua Mud Festival, trying to create an ongoing event based on using mud as a therapy and health treatment, apparently popular in other parts of the world.

So filthy, old boxing can't have any public money - but dirty, old mud can.

Then councillor Dick Quax popped up with a snide remark comparing Auckland to Kinshasa. Quax was one of the councillors when council geniuses overspent in their efforts to corral their many and varied IT networks into one seamless wonder. It took $1.2 billion to do so, a truly astounding figure, yet I don't recall Dick making comparisons to third world countries then.

Council watchdog Cameron Brewer's checklist a little over a year ago revealed council staff had grown by more than 250 people in the previous 12 months; the number earning more than $200,000 increased by 146 and an extra 36 earned over $300,000. Total staff costs were $63m over budget at $792 million.

New mayor Phil Goff had hardly got his hands on Len Brown's best-seller How To Be A Mayor: Stay Out Of The Ngati Whatua Room when he announced Auckland should have a $1 billion stadium by Vector Arena, and that we could sell Eden Park off for $300m. All that money, all that waste, all that (expensive) vision. If the 36 staffers earning more than $300k hadn't been hired, nearly $11m would have been saved.

Suddenly Duco's outstretched palm doesn't seem quite so preposterous.

It's easy to be against public money being tipped into Parker-Ruiz. A single boxing bout, even a world title fight (note use of word 'a' as opposed to use of word 'the'), does not offer the prolonged exposure to New Zealand that, say, a world cup, Commonwealth Games or America's Cup regatta does. However, if Parker wins, his defences, even if overseas, will attract an audience of many millions, an opportunity not be missed.

Boxing doesn't always help itself, being one of the few sports where the rivals try to hurt each other. Opponents generally refuse to take the point when other sports and pastimes where people regularly die are ticked off - motor racing, motorcycling, horse racing, American football, parachuting, free diving, base jumping, free mountaineering, skiing and so on, not to mention MMA and other martial arts.

So the moralists and politicians got hold of things. Some of the former needed extension ladders to climb onto high horses. One dear soul wrote a letter to the paper advocating that the best way to cure domestic violence was to ban boxing, as it was setting a bad example. Sometimes, no matter how long we live, true understanding of human frailties still eludes us. Boxing as the catalyst of domestic violence? That's like saying we should ban driving so people don't run red lights.

Then we had the Minister of Pomposity, Steven Joyce, and his plan that if the fight made a profit, it had to be given back to the government - a business model guaranteed to elicit only one result. Act leader David Seymour, a man who stimulates the question "Who?", said the government had "narrowly escaped getting sucker-punched by Duco Events" and should scrap the Major Events Fund altogether.

"Whether it's horse shows, golf opens, yacht races, or stand-up paddle boarding, governments of all stripes fall into the trap of granting fat cheques to organisations perfectly capable of raising a profit without help," he roared.

This would be much more credible if Mr Seymour had been 'perfectly capable' of getting into Parliament without help - he was the bloke for whom the government bent the principles of MMP in exchange for his political alliance by asking Epsom's National followers to vote for Act in the last election.

So he is clearly not totally against government handouts. Wonder how he feels about the mud festival?

- NZ Herald

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