Former Elite XC honcho Gary Shaw dropped by Steve Cofield’s radio show to discuss the Affliction/Golden Boy partnership — something he is actually uniquely qualified to do as one of the few people who has experience promoting boxing and MMA with varying levels of success. His forecast for the partnership’s chances was grim, to say the least, and he doesn’t think much of Affliction’s plan to get into the boxing apparel biz, either:
Golden Boy’s doing a very good job in boxing. There’s nobody there who knows MMA. …I don’t think it’s going to work out… They’re talking about Affliction doing all the boxing gear, and I was looking around the room while they were doing the press conference, there wasn’t one person in the whole press conference wearing anything of a shirt, hat, or pants, having to do with boxing. And if you go to an MMA event, it’s a lifestyle, everybody’s in MMA clothing. And I think it’s going to be a lesson to both. I think they’re in for some surprises.
I don’t think they can build the market. I think it’s a good t-shirt. I love their line. I like all their MMA stuff. But boxing people, they come to an event, it’s not a lifestyle. The next day they’re not training. A lot of people in MMA train. It’s a cult, it’s a lifestyle, it’s different. They’ll learn.
If you’re wondering whether Gary Shaw’s doom and gloom attitude regarding the “cult” of MMA might be due in part to his failed attempts at trying to get them to believe any manner of bullshit, you just may be on to something. The frosty reception he got from fans, journalists, and other promoters seems to have had a lasting effect on Shaw’s fragile psyche:
The MMA fans are unforgiving. It took me close to two years to learn that, from being called a fat slob to a washed up promoter or whatever, and the lifestyle of MMA is unforgiving. They don’t want crossovers. If you’re the new guy on the block they want to say, ‘Boxing’s dead so now you want to come over to our side of the street.’ It reminds me of gangs and colors. I just don’t think mixing boxing and MMA fights on the same card is going to be successful because MMA fans are going to boycott it and boxing fans have no interest in MMA.
I like both, I really do. I like MMA. I’m proud of what I did with Kimbo and Gina Carano and Nick Diaz. I’m an expert in boxing. I’m not an expert in MMA. I think boxing fans are more susceptible to allowing MMA than MMA fans are to boxing. I don’t know why.
There are two points worth making here: 1) Wait a minute, Gary Shaw, the man who called Kimbo Slice the sport’s best heavyweight striker, is not an expert in MMA? Get the fuck out of town. 2) MMA fans are an unforgiving, often negative, and at times overprotective bunch. This is true. But Shaw doesn’t seem interested in why it’s true.
Because of the way MMA has been stereotyped and criticized in its past, fans of the sport are used to adopting the role of advocate. They are frightened of the prospect that something — a promoter who tries to pass a streetfighter off as an MMA great despite his obvious inexperience, for example — might once again bring down the ire of the politicians and the mainstream news media and erase all the advances the sport has made. In that regard MMA fans are different than other sports fans, and more sensitive towards things they deem as being bad for the sport.
Shaw’s sour grapes-type attitude about the MMA crowd is understandable, given his experiences with them, but the blame is misplaced. Right now he sounds eerily similar to the CEO’s of other failed MMA organizations who have taken to blaming the fans rather than improving their product.