Tuesday, August 2, 2016

TBG Book Review: Sibbo The Tony Sibson Story

The Boxing Glove Sunday Night Book Review

By Peter Silkov

“Sibbo: The Tony Sibson Story” By Jim Kirkwood

Tony Sibson was one of Britain’s most popular and exciting fighters during the 1980s, when the middleweight division was enjoying a golden period, and was the most popular division in the country, with fighters like Alan Minter, Kevin Finnegan, Mark Kaylor, Errol Christie, Herol Graham, and Sibson himself, all vying for the major domestic titles.  It was a time when the division in Britain was full of outstanding talent and distinctive characters, and for much of the 80s, Sibson was right at the top of them all.

‘Sibbo,’ as his fans knew him, was a stocky slugger, with one of the best left-hooks in the division.  Fans were usually guaranteed heavy-hitting action when Sibson was in the ring. A converted southpaw, Sibbo could punch hard with both hands, but his best weapon was the left-hook, which was one of the most potent left-hooks in the division. There was hardly a dull moment when ’Sibbo’ was in the ring, yet in addition to his strength and power, Sibson could also box as well, something which was often overlooked during his career.

With so many fighters from Sibson’s era having had their biographies published, it has always been something of a surprise that Tony Sibson didn’t have a book written about him, and his drama filled career sooner. Then again, it is perhaps not so surprising when you bear in mind that, outside of the ring, Sibson is known for his shyness and his reticence for being in the limelight.

In “Sibbo: The Tony Sibson Story” Jim Kirkwood takes us back to the 1970s and 80s, and the drama’s, and showdowns of that era.

Tony Sibson was born on April 9, 1958, in Leicester, Leicestershire, with Romany heritage, and always seemed destined for a boxing career, after starting boxing as an amateur at the age of 11, and leaving school by the age of 14 to take up work as a hod carrier. Sibson began boxing as a professional on his 18th birthday, and over the next 12 years, he would have a exciting, roller coaster career, full of ups and downs, that would see him win every major title except for that coverted world championship.

“Sibbo” takes us behind the scenes, and examines Tony Sibson’s career fight by fight, from his early days when he was fighting more or less just for fun, and a little money, to his championship heydays, when he was one of the best middleweights in the world.

Packed with interviews with Sibson himself, and his trainers and managers of the time, “Sibbo” does a great job of taking us behind the scenes of every major fight that he had, showing us the build up to these fights, and the various highs and lows of Sibson’s career.

Despite his aggressive all-action style inside the ring, Sibson was a complicated and emotional man out side of the ring, who throughout his career, struggled with the demands of being in the limelight, and had a love-hate relationship with boxing.     

Sibson’s somewhat jaded attitude to his boxing career can be traced to the various boxing politics that he encountered from early on in his career.  His relationships with his managers, trainers, and promoters are recalled. We are given an in-depth view of the inner workings of the boxing world.

Sibbo’s boxing career had many highlights, including his wins over domestic rivals Frankie Lucas, Alan Minter, Mark Kaylor, and his three tries to win a world championship.  Unfortunately for Sibson, he never produced his best form in any of his world title attempts. 

In his first shot at a world title Sibson challenged the legendary, Marvin Hagler, for the world middleweight championship in February 1983, and was stopped in 6 rounds after a gutsy performance. Sibson had to wait over 3 years for his next shot at a world title, and when it came in September 1986, it was against the rock-hard tough man, Dennis Andries, for Andries’ WBC world light-heavyweight championship. Sibson again came up short, after a rough fight, with the often underrated Andries proving to be just too strong for ‘Sibbo’ and stopping him in the 9th round.

Sibson’s last attempt at a world title came 18 months after the Andries’ defeat, against Frank Tate, for the IBF world middleweight championship. By this time Sibson was visibly slipping as a fighter, and Tate proved to be too young, fast and ambitious for the sluggish Sibson, and stopped him in the 10th round. This match proved to be the last for Sibson.

Although it has become something of a cliché to highlight outstanding fighters of 1970s and 80s, and say that if they were fighting in today’s era they would be ‘world champions,’ it is not hard to envision Tony Sibson picking up a world title if he were boxing today.

‘Sibbo’ is a fast-moving, entertaining read, and an in-depth study of both Sibson the fighter, but also the man outside of the ring.  ”Sibbo’ is also a vivid trip back to the 1970s and 80’s when boxing had a far higher public profile than it does today, and even domestic champions, were often household names.

John Kirkwood has also written a biography on Dave Charnley, the British lightweight champion of the 1950s, and 60s, who came so close to winning the world championship against Joe Brown.

Marvin Hagler Vs. Tony Sibson February 11, 1983:

Copyright © 2016 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. OT: Don't fret if Manny Pacquiao isn't fighting in the ring for now. You can still watch his videos at his official youtube channel. Check out Oscar De La Hoya visiting Manny Pacquiao here.