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Barry Jones Interview: Working Class Heroes & Ricky Hatton

When former WBO super featherweight champion Barry Jones tweeted the above about Ricky Hatton and working class heroes within boxing, it got Hellraiser’s Adam Thorn thinking about the subject of class within boxing, an area which has possibly shifted identity for good. He wondered, too, about Barry's opinion on the popularity of “Hitman” Hatton, his personal favourite boxer.

Barry graciously agreed to answer a few questions on the matter.

Adam Thorn: When you described Ricky Hatton as “possibly” the last working class hero in boxing: were you referring to his status as hero, or an evolution in the definition of working class?

Barry Jones: More his status and how future sporting stars are more detached from their roots and the working class in general. Footballers for example are picked up at a young age, put in academies and by the time they are in their twenties they are millionaires and living a totally different life.

But you are right about definition of Working class changing. It now has a broader sense and it's the middle classes that have almost disappeared.

A stereotypical Working class family was made up of Manual labour, be it that a tradesman, usually a single income family, modest and living within your means.

Now, as the middle classes have all but been swallowed up, you have a new working class. Where more emphasis is put on higher education and people aspire to overachieve and have the things that in years gone by wouldn't have even have been dreamt of.

By “last working class hero” Were you referencing a shift in the class perception that maybe has altered over 20 years, particularly within boxing?

Everything is more diverse and sport is no different. You have people from different social and cultural backgrounds not only competing in boxing but becoming successful.

When I was a kid you would have never have thought a British Muslim would ever be a successful boxing Champion, only because all our world champions before had been black or white. But then Naz came along and changed everything and for the better.

Amir Khan in the Olympics and then a multi world champion and now the Yafai brothers are winning world and other major titles and plenty more have or are making waves.

And now kids who have a chance in fields less dangerous than boxing are choosing to take up the sport as a career. Times change and we have to adapt with it for good or bad.

Do you think there'll ever be a boxer as popular as Ricky from the U.K.?

It will be difficult to have another boxer as popular as Ricky, but I'm sure there will be. Anthony Joshua might well be on his way to that. Not just for his achievements in the ring but for the messages he's constantly portraying to the youth of today.

Joshua's speech after he beat Klitschko in Wembley was just a thing of beauty a PR dream.

Questions by Adam Thorn

What do you think, is boxing’s class background changing? Will any British boxer rival the unique popularity of Ricky Hatton? Tweet us at @HellraiserBox!

Hellraiser would like to thank Barry Jones for his time and candour.

Posted: 29th Aug 2017

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