Best of Newshub Sport 2018: The uncomfortable truth about Joseph Parker - Andrew Gourdie

This story originally ran in March 2018.

OPINION: An uncomfortable truth awaits some people in this country, if Joseph Parker can beat Anthony Joshua in Cardiff on Sunday.

If Parker can add the WBA, IBF and IBO titles to his WBO crown, it will be the greatest sporting achievement in New Zealand's history. End of story.

We've had many Olympic champions, World Cup winners and world champions across a range of sports, but boxing's heavyweight division is the most glamorous and prestigious in the purest sport of all. 

That said, there's an impurity to boxing that gives the sport a bad name - performance-enhancing drugs and fighters with a rough backstory, who use their newfound fame and fortune to live a life of excess.

Joseph Parker is none of this, but those very stereotypes have seen politicians, funding bodies and potential sponsors choose not to support Parker along the way. Put simply, they didn't like his sport or the company he keeps.

parker tape

But there's no question that, if Parker wins this weekend, he deserves to be recognised and treated as one of our all-time sporting greats.

Will he be offered a knighthood? He should be.

He's inspired a generation of kids in Mangere East and right around the country in a way few others can. He's shown them that they really can be the best in the world.

He's done it without the kind of support granted our thoroughly deserving Olympic champions. He's certainly given more to New Zealand and NZ sport than he's taken from us.

Boxing may not be squeaky clean, but our highest accolade's been bestowed on athletes who have enjoyed success in sports that, in recent years, have been proven to share some of the very same problems that have tarnished boxing's reputation.

Some will hang onto those perceptions and find excuses. They'll say Anthony Joshua's not a great fighter or that the heavyweight division's not what it was.

Where's Ali? Tyson?

Well, Sir Bob Charles never beat Tiger Woods either. Denny Hulme never raced against Michael Schumacher. Sir Peter Snell never took on David Rudisha or Hicham El Guerrouj.

joshua tape

That doesn't diminish their achievements - they beat the best of their time to be the best of their time.

And so it could be with Parker. A win won't make him the unified world champion or the undisputed world champion because Deontay Wilder holds the other belt, but there's no question this is the top of the mountain for Joseph Parker.

Andrew Gourdie is a Newshub sports reporter/presenter.

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