Why are so many people surprised to learn that most boxers and boxing fans have a keen sense of humour? They must think we are all a bunch of miserable straight faced half-wits who go about punching the hell out of each other. But let them think what they want, we know different though don’t we?

Admittedly we do tend to respect our sport that little bit more than most other sports fans seem to respect theirs, but that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh about it. I may be a bit biased about it, but I personally think there is more humour per square inch in boxing than there is any other sport on the planet. If you talk to any old (or young) boxer and boxing fan you’ll find that they all have a lighter side to them, and I’m sure if you press them to tell you every single one of them will regale you with an amusing anecdote about themselves; they’ll have you in stitches one way or the other!

One of the clown princes of the ring was heavyweight champion of the world Max Baer, but there are too many instances of his tom foolery in the ring to tell you them all (or even half of them) but my personal favourite gag of his was when he knocked the fading champion Primo Carnera, down (which he did 11 times) in their championship fight, he lay on the canvas next to him and whispered the words last one up’s a sissy, into his ear.

I think one of the funniest things ever heard in a boxing ring was when the ringside doctor asked Willie Pastrano, if he knew where he was immediately after being knocked down by Jose Torres. He replied, Yeah, I’m in Madison Square Garden getting the shit kicked out of me. It was true he was taking a licking, and I think this was his last fight.

From time immemorial humour has always gone hand in glove with the fight game, which brings me to a rather funny anecdote from many years ago which I read in a tattered old pugilistic book I found lurking in my collection. It said that one of the wittiest men ever associated with the fight game was Lord Drumlanrig; who coincidently was the father of the Marquis of Queensbury (the one who put his name to the boxing rules) and apparently this patriarch was partial to a bit of fisticuffs himself. Its description of him said he was a tall well built powerful man with big hands who could handle himself in many ways and was a formidable exponent of the fight game.

This noble laird; or Old Drummy, as he was more commonly called behind his back, would on hearing that there was a pugilist in the county would think nothing of jumping on his horse and riding for miles on end just to challenge this person to a fight (sounds like a journeyman to me.) He was by no means a bully, he just loved to fight and apparently going off what I’ve read he was a fair man too, holding no grudge against anyone who beat him; which in itself is unusual for the normally bullying aristocracy of the day.

Anyway! It came to his ears one day that a neighbouring farmer who also loved a fight had built up a bit of a reputation for knocking people out and was now considered by many to be the strongest man in the county; and in those days strength was considered to be the greatest asset a fighter could have. So saying someone was the strongest man in the county was equal to saying that they were the best fighter too. This was like a red flag to a bull for the pugilistic lord and he had to find out for himself if these stories were true, so saddling up his trusty mare that carried him everywhere he set off like a man possessed to find this so called strong-man neighbour of his. And find him he did, the man was hard at work as it happens in one of his fields.

From the back of his horse, but not in an unfriendly tone he called down to the man, “Friend, I’ve heard a good deal of talk about you and I’ve come here today to see which one of us is truly the better man!”

Quite nonchalantly and without uttering a word the rugged farmer calmly reached up and pulled the honourable challenger from his horse and barely flexing a muscle threw him bodily over a hawthorn hedge, and then carried on with his work as though nothing had happened.

When his lordship eventually recovered consciousness and scrambled to his feet, the farmer looked up and said, “Well sir, have you anything more to say to me?”

With surprising wit; considering he’d just been thrown on his head, Old Drummy replied, “No, but perhaps you’ll be good enough to throw me my horse and I’ll be on my way!”

It’s not recorded what the farmers response was.