It Ain’t The Noble Art, And I Ain’t Its Noblest Artist

Sunny-Bull returns to the squared circle for ten rounds of pugilistic action

It’s a slow enough news day here at Mole Towers, so we feel obliged to give Superstar Sunny-Bull Wull’yums the nigh-obligatory kiwi fluff for his upcoming NZ heavyweight title fight. 

Wull’yums’ boxing career has been indulged by the NZ management since he turned down a big bucks offer to resign with Toulon and signed himself up with the All Blacks. With the World Cup secured, the Mole had thought it likely that those in power at the NZRFU would call time on these pugilistic antics. After all, they’re paying him to play rugby, and while it was deemed important to keep him sweet in the period up to and including the World Cup, surely that onus has been made redundant. It would seem not.

Boxing is a bloody dangerous sport, and while to date Wull’yums’ opponents have all been classic tomato cans from the Bum of the Month Club, you’d imagine that fighting for a national title would expose him to somebody who should actually be in a boxing ring.

It all seems a bit ridiculous. Sunny-Bull might be living out some Boys Own dream of being heavyweight champ of his country and building the SBW brand at the same time, but it’s an odd way to conduct yourself as a professional rugby player. Can you imagine Munster allowing Paul O’Connell to train for Ireland’s Olympic swimming team or Leinster to stand aside and let Cian Healy try and make it as a weightlifter? No, frankly – and neither of those activities are dangerous in comparison to a sport where the objective is to inflict brain damage on your opponent. All the time spent swimming and weightlifting would have some athletic benefits – better than sinking pints for three months, for example – but they eat up time that should be spent training for rugby or even just recovering.

Sunny-Bull hasn’t conquered rugby union quite yet. He was something of a fringe member of the All Blacks World Cup efforts, only starting three games out of seven, and two of those were against Tonga and Canada. It’s worth remembering that he didn’t make it into the starting XV for either the semi-final nor the final of the World Cup, and in his career has only started 7 games for the All Blacks.

Obviously he’s a first-rate athletic talent and seems like a very decent skin – he donated $NZ100,000 from his last fight to the Christchurch Earthquake appeal, which is incredibly generous. However, to the Mole this whole boxing lark just seems like a sideshow, an indulgence. At 26 years old, he has the ability and the years in front of him to be a genuinely world class rugby union player; fluting around in a boxing ring isn’t going to help him hit those levels.

On the other hand, maybe boxing is where his heart lies. If it is, he should take it up fulltime, move to a proper gym and try and make a serious career of it. The world is crying out for marketable heavyweights, after all.

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