“I’m not even sure why you want to talk to me, I’ve not got much to say” was her opening line. Christine Morrison then went on to chat for around an hour and a half giving her thoughts on boxing and her life growing up around it alongside her sister and father Alex. We met up at the gym where she conducts her business and looks after the current stable of boxers as the promoter with Alex being the manager. The latest show had seen one of their own boxers, Ally Black suffer a particularly hard knockout against Martin Harkin in his quest to win the Celtic Welterweight Title. First and foremost, I wanted to check that Ally was ok and had recovered
“Yes, he is, he was here on Monday and the bruising is going. I think he wants to go again but I’m not 100% sure, it was horrible to see. I actually left after the first round and when I came back I thought he’d been knocked out in the 2nd as it didn’t feel as if I’d been away that long. Martin came over to me later in the night to apologise for celebrating as he didn’t realise Ally had been hurt so badly. Once he realised, he stopped and when Ally did get up Martin came over and went down on one knee to him which was a nice gesture and he seems a lovely guy”
When it comes to shows Christine has been running the promotional side of the business for nine years, she explained how it all happened and some of the obstacles she has had to overcome.
“I took over from my sister Katherin 9 years ago but obviously I’ve been around boxing for a long time, I can remember as a teenager my dad going to Charlie Kerr’s gym and then a bit later watching him fighting and winning the western districts as an amateur. I would also help Katherin, I would be the one who would go and pick Frank Warren or referee’s and boxers up at the airport. I started to work alongside Katherin just helping out really and then a year and a half later she decided she didn’t want to do it anymore. Ricky Burns had won his first title on 4th September 2010 and Katherin left at Xmas after 26 years so that was when I took over and pretty much thrown in the deep end. I had an idea of what to do so things were ticking over but in the December of 2011 the sauna at the gym went on fire and we lost most of the gym. That was on the 1st of December and we had a boxing show on the 4th of December and I was thinking oh my god imagine if we have to cancel this show. I went back into the rubble and opened my desk drawer; everything was burnt except my diary and that had all the names of everyone that was coming to the boxing. I’d been working on it and must have shoved it in the drawer, from that I went to a friend’s office and did everything. We managed to get it all organised and the show went ahead, it was a nightmare at the time but we got there”
Working alongside such a big character as Alex with as much experience in the game as he has could be difficult to deal with. Christine opened up as to how much influence he still had when it came to the organising of events and how stressful they can be to get arrange.
“My dad’s influence is still 150%, he probably won’t like me for saying this but he’s not one for giving over control of anything. Although he’s not doing the actual physical organising of it, he’s doing a lot of the bits and pieces, you will hear a passing comment saying you know that’s happening don’t you and I’m like no you haven’t mentioned it. I still get anxiety or panic attacks whatever you want to call it days before a show. Even working with Matchroom is quite daunting although it’s not our promotion as you are supplying them with boxers or dealing with tickets and you are dealing with a lot of money and the checking of everything. It’s actually hard to enjoy a show until all the boxers and ambulance crew have turned up but once everyone is sitting down and the fights have started you can start to relax a bit”
In terms of the current stable at Morrisons the roster of boxers includes Ally Black, Regan Glackin, Stewart Burt, Joe Ham, Scott McCormack, Lewis Paulin who fights for the British Featherweight Title shortly against Ryan Walsh, Charlie Flynn and of course Ricky Burns. We touched on Charlie and Ricky, two boxers who have not been as active of late.
“Charlie has had a couple of injuries, first it was his back and then his shoulder. He then got married and his baby is due soon so boxing has taken a bit of a back seat with everything. He still goes around the schools in Scotland and takes athletes to speak to the children about fitness and motivation. He’s still young and he will be back soon. He came fishing with us once and Charlie asked to drive the boat, I said yes but just take it easy next thing I know he has banged the throttle full up and I went flying across the boat and thought I was about to end up in Loch Lomond. There were a few choice words and that was the last time he’s driven a boat laughed Christine”
“With Ricky we are hoping to hear very soon about an upcoming fight, I can’t say who or where at the moment. If the name that has been mentioned goes ahead then it will be a very good fight, it could be here or in the states though. He has been here training for about a month just now but he’ll go back down to camp once we have a date for the fight”
With so many great nights over the years it would be difficult to highlight one, however Christine touched on the night she felt was the best one she had been involved in.
“Obviously the night Ricky won the title against Roman Martinez was very good, but I have to say that the Kevin Mitchell fight at the SECC in 2012 was my favourite. That was some night, I’m sure Frank Warren believed that they were coming up for an easy night’s work and taking the title back down the road with them. It was so good and I was screaming so loudly, I actually like Kevin and he’s a really nice guy but Ricky is our boy. I remember going back to the Crowne Plaza as that’s where all the boxers were staying and you could see the disappointment written all over Frank Warren’s face. Although we were celebrating to be honest Ricky is not that interested in after parties or anything like that. He will come in and do the press and then speak to anyone else that wants to say hi or congratulate him but he just wants to go home after it all”
Currently Christine is the only female promoter in Scotland. With woman’s boxing becoming more and more popular and our own Hannah Rankin having a world title fight in Paisley this weekend. I wanted to get her thoughts on female boxing.
“I don’t like it to be honest. I don’t think any female should be standing in a ring and being punched on the breasts, or anywhere but especially there where you can get cancer and it’s so prevalent. Nothing against Hannah and I don’t mean any disrespect at all but it’s not something I’m interested in. I do like Katie Taylor a lot; I’ve not seen her latest fight yet but I did see them at the weigh in. I thought her opponent just looked like some sort of android or machine and I thought she’s not going to beat her. I know she got the decision but it’s debatable whether she won, I saw a picture of Katie afterwards and she has never looked like that after a fight before. Taking on a female boxer is not something we have ever considered yet”
Having being surrounded in boxing at a young age and having dealt with so many fighters overt he years Christine recounted when she met at one time the baddest man on the planet.
“I can’t really say I have a favourite boxer but I do have so many memories. I actually really like Mike Tyson and thought he was great when he was up here for his fight with Lou Savarese at Hampden in 2000. I remember him saying to me back then, “at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what I do, what I say or how much money I have, I will always be a black bastard”. I also couldn’t believe how small he was for a heavyweight.
Looking ahead to future fights further down the line, Christine stopped short of laying out any firm strategy but did highlight what she felt success look like for her and the current boxers.
“I would like to see the dedicated boxers, the ones that live the life make it. Whether its with us or if they ever left to go elsewhere, they still make something of themselves. I can honestly say that all of our guys live the life but some more than others. Ricky Burns being one of them, he comes in and trains every day and he will take circuit classes the same as he is doing for anyone who happens to be in the gym. I like that he does that and he wants people to join in. It helps improve not only the physical side for people but also their well being as it’s motivated them and made them feel good. I actually think that Ricky will end up being the top trainer in Scotland in years to come, personally I think he will open his own gym and he’ll be a top trainer. He’s a lot of years still to give as a boxer before then but he will make an excellent trainer”
As our interview came to a close my last question was around achievements and what would Christine still like to achieve. “I don’t feel as if I’ve actually achieved anything” she said quickly. After a pause to think about it she gave an insight into the type of person she is as well as the affection she has for Ricky as she selflessly said. “I’d like to see Ricky Burns win another title and then become the best Scottish trainer ever”
For someone who started off thinking she didn’t have much to say Christine was as charming as she was honest and direct. Those character traits will have served her well over the last decade in what can be an unforgiving business at times. She didn’t want me to call her the first lady of Scottish boxing, preferring to leave that title with her sister. , the steely determination and passion she has for the fight game was admirable and will no doubt lead to many more years of success for the Morrison stable.
Interview by Jon Bruce