Projects

Boxing Beats

The Welsh Valleys have a long history of boxing.  Who can forget Joe Calzaghe’s recent conquests and world titles?  Together with Howard Winstone, he follows in the footsteps of Jim Driscoll, Jimmy Wilde and Thomas Thomas, who put Wales on the boxing map back in the early twentieth century.

In the spring of 2009 Academi and WNO MAX began an innovative project in the Valleys engaging male and female boxers in creative writing and music activities.

In February, March and April 2009 Academi’s South Wales Valleys Literature Development Officer worked with author and former boxerLouise Walsh (Fighting Pretty, Seren 2008).  Louise ran a series of creative journaling sessions based on personal experiences of life and boxing in the Valleys.

Following this, the boxers worked with composer,Peter Swaffer-Reynolds: percussionist, Dave Danford and singers, Katy Trehearne, Laura Pooley and Andy Morton to set their words to music and performance. Rhythm and drums provided the main musical backbeat to the performance. The first performance was staged in the boxing ring at Gelligaer Gym on Tuesday 28 April.

Academi and WNO MAX are both looking for ways of making creative arts part of a routine lifestyle in the way that sport is. Both organisations are trying to unite a love of playing sport with a love for the language and music of sport.

The Boxing Beats project was an imaginative way to connect sport and sport writing. Boxing has a rich history and some fine writers have created great fiction and journalism.  This project has used the boxing knowledge of local practitioners and expressed it on the page and through music.  In a similar way, projects with Scott Quinnell, Surf Cult, and Cardiff City have found ways of describing in words what is often expressed only instinctively and physically.

Louise Walsh said :

“In Boxing Beats three opposite, yet similarly dramatic and powerful class cultures are being brought together to create something entirely original.

“I think the Welsh boxers, Academi and Welsh National Opera will get more out of it than they imagine.

“The Academi and WNO, in encouraging boxers to explore other means of expression, could be surprised by the wealth of personal voices and stories just below the surface of this tough sport.”

Songs:

We Had Good Times

Andrew Bloomer

Bradley smiled at my smile
Because I lost my front teeth
But I think we learnt how to box
Before we learnt how to speak
Though it be tough, it be tough,
We had good times

We were proper live wires
With guts like concrete
But I think we learnt how to box
Before we learnt how to eat
Though it be tough, it be tough,
We had good times

We fought paupers and army
I fought Prince Naseem
But I think we learnt how to box
Before we learnt how to dream
Though it be tough, it be tough,
We had good times

I watched Bradley fight title
Who push-punched him down
Deep into a coma
They said he may not come round
I said Bradley, be tough
We’ll have good times

They lowered his coffin
The weight push-punched me down
Felt battle scarred and worn
Said farewell to Bradley alone
It be tough sometimes, it be tough
To remember the good times.

High Noon

Gary Cooper

They always play the same hand
When I roll into town
And this gunslinger’s burden
It begins to weigh me down

Reputation proceeds me
But I know for sure somehow
That if I weren’t a fighter
They’d have seen me killed by now

My name might be Gary Cooper
But this picture ain’t High Noon

Judge, I say, I’m innocent
I’m asking seriously
A pro fighter on the high street
Town trouble comes to me

But I’ll keep up the fighting
As they seek me out time on time
Devil will have to wait his turn
At the back of this small-town line

And I can’t believe they haven’t learnt the lesson
And I can’t believe they think they’ll win
I can’t get how many times I show ‘em
And it’s still not sinking in

My name might be Gary Cooper
But this picture ain’t High Noon

Judge, I say, I’m innocent
I’m asking seriously
A pro fighter on the high street
Town trouble comes to me

They always play the same hand

When I roll into town
This gunslinger’s burden
It begins to weigh me down

Canvas Blue

Jack Jones

That night
I boxed Keiron Daley
Danced sweeping lines
In slip soled boots
And jabbed and crossed
Three rounds I fought
And three I lost
Left feeling true canvas blue

That night
I couldn’t sleep
Longed for a different outcome
In the inky black
Feeling angry and crossed
At the three rounds I’d fought
And the three that I lost
Left feeling true canvas blue

Last night again
I boxed Keiron Daley
Eight months older
On the canvas blue
Judges dotted and crossed
Of the three rounds we fought
All three Keiron lost
Bet he’s left feeling true canvas blue

Last night
I slept soundly
In comforting, exhausted joy
In the returning night
Trained no matter the cost
So the rematch we fought
Would be three rounds he lost
Left victorious upon true canvas blue.

Welcome Me Home

Lauren Price

I look at my watch and know the register’s called
It’s all been explained and my teacher’s been told
I’m here on the continent as matters unfold
Taking on giants and plundering gold 

I stand and deliver with Amazon Queens
I may be a kid but I’m nobody’s fool
This fearless at this age must be breaking some rule
But I’ll take all your medals and show them at school

But I do wish my grandparents were there in the crowd
It’s for them that I’d fight to the ends of the earth
To the last ends of making them proud

I’m a battle-maid school-girl
And I feel like I’ve grown
And my nana’s hung banners
To welcome me home

I stand and deliver with Amazon Queens
I may be a kid but I’m nobody’s fool
This fearless at this age must be breaking some rule
But I’ll take your all medals and show them at school

But I do wish my grandparents were there in the crowd
It’s for them that I’d fight to the ends of the earth
To the last ends of making them proud

I’m a battle-maid school-girl
And I feel like I’ve grown
And my nana’s hung banners
To welcome me home

There’s Nothing

Keiron Williams

You’re asking for downsides
That’s disloyalty
You get it yourself
You won’t get it through me
There’s nothing not to like about boxing

Now, ask me what I like
And I’ll give you a list
But I’ll not make up
What doesn’t exist

You ask someone else
I’ll not be the key
You get it yourself
You won’t get it through me
There’s nothing not to like about boxing

Now, ask me what I like
And I’ll give you a list
But I’ll not make up
What doesn’t exist

You get it yourself
You can’t get it through me

There’s nothing not to like about boxing

I’m Hooked

Garin Jones

I’m sucking for air in the red stream
Like gold fish, pink salmon
The bell rings
I’m hooked

I wriggle away as
Towelled round
My cheeks are smeared
With thin crimson glue

He holds fast
Stick it to him, son
Keeping this battle raging
What do you feel?
What do I feel?

It hurts and its painful
But I don’t care

I’m sucking for air in the red stream
Like gold fish, pink salmon
The bell rings
I’m hooked.