The Man is good for the game

If you don't like Anthony Mundine, take a moment to forget about what he says and look closely at what he does.

Most rugby league fans, aspirants and even current players would agree that steering a side to a grand final berth in the premier competition in the world is an outstanding achievement.

And I reckon if you spoke to most of those involved in the boxing arena, few would argue that winning seven belts - including numerous Super Middleweight titles - marks a career of high distinction.

So how do you describe a man who has managed to achieve both, and still has more to offer?

Calling him "the" man might be going a little too far, but in some circles it's considered a much deserved label.

Under normal circumstances you might consider such an athlete a fine asset to sport in general and an inspiration to us all. Some would speak about him as a benchmark to success of sorts. They might even use such an individual to motivate their kids, telling them they might be that good someday if they eat their vegetables.

Believe it or not, there is a person who fits this description. But the plaudits aren't quite as forthcoming as you would expect - and there's a very good reason for it.

That man is Anthony Mundine, and he has one thing bigger than his trophy cabinet, list of achievements and talent all put together - his mouth.

He makes more claims than a stuntperson, more promises than a politician and will happily tell everybody else what he wants them to hear.

It's confidence, a huge ego, and self motivation. It's also attention seeking, exhibitionism and pig-headed arrogance. It's all of those attributes rolled into one.

It's the arrogance that comes across the most strongly. While it's possible to overstate yourself in a way that makes you seem more cheeky than anything, Mundine says it like he truly believes it. And it's that attribute that gets a lot of people offside.

But that's just the way Mundine is. It's part of who he is. And if Mundine is anything, he's certainly a character. It's largely his constant prattle that gets all of us talking about him. "I can't believe that Mundine fella thinks he's better than Fittler," you might say. And it gets a conversation going. You might even go on to discuss how many current five-eighths there are running around you think are far better. You talk about Mundine because he's a real character.

He'll go down as a memorable one, too. Twenty years down the track we might see a young bloke on TV talking up his ability before a big game. "He reminds me of Anthony Mundine," you'll tell your kids. And when they ask you about him, you'll have plenty to say. "He was a mad bloke, used to box and play footy and go around saying he was as good as Superman!"

For most of us, he'll be remembered fondly. You always remember the characters in life, whether you liked them or not.

And that's just why Mundine is good for the game. He brings a character to the sport the likes of which we don't often see. In modern day rugby league, players are well-trained professionals. They'll tell you things such as they're taking it one game at a time and not getting too far ahead of themselves. Ask them about their upcoming opposition, and they might respond by commenting on the toughness of the match and how it cannot be taken lightly. What about how they might fare against their opposing number next weekend? "He's a good player but I'm just going to worry about my own game," you'll probably hear.

Not Mundine, though. He'll tell you that he's the world's best and his opposing number is running on old legs. Or even that he's imposed a sex ban on himself to gain an edge on other players!

Rugby league is famous for the many characters that have graced it throughout its history, and "Choc" is well and truly one of them.

He may not be "the" man to most of us, but he will always be remembered as "the" Anthony Mundine.

References

Halloran, Jessica (2005) Mundine moments Sydney Morning Herald [online]. Available from: http://www.smh.com.au/news/League/Mundine-moments/2005/04/08/1112815728496.html [Accessed 9th April 2005].

BoxRec (2005) Anthony Mundine BoxRec [online]. Available from: http://www.boxrec.com/boxer_display.php?boxer_id=014646 [Accessed 10th April 2005].

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