Punch and Eubank show

QUESTIONS OF SPORT online.co.uk/sport 08.03.09 25
Boxing – Steve Collins –
Steve Collins, the boxer, saw the Late, Late Show and employed Quinn as his mental coach. You can see a programme on this produced by Greg Dyck formerly the Director of the BBC, entitled Boxing Clever
In a court case reported by the Irish Times on Thursday, November 20, 1997 against Barry Hearn his former manager Collins admitted, “That he had paid £360,000 for the services of health adviser Mr Tony Quinn, following his two world title fights.”
At first it looked like Quinn was really using hypnosis on Collins. He “announced on the eve of the fight in Millstreet, that he had employed a hypnotist, Tony Quinn, to help him to prepare. He said he would be under hypnosis during the fight and that he would feel no pain and would not bleed.” Eubank fell for what was, in retrospect, a mischievous ruse and threatened to pull out. He was persuaded to go on with the fight, however, but he had lost the psychological battle and though he put Collins on the floor midway through the fight, he lost the fight on a points decision.” Early reports suggested that Collins up till then an obscure boxer was successful because of Quinn’s influence. As the programme above shows it was rather a cynical and unethical use of hypnosis, as Eubank had nearly killed another fighter before meeting Collins. A member of DI met Steve Collins in McDonalds with his kids, and the impression formed was that he was sorry to ever set eyes on Quinn. However, in the organisation the book was used to prove that TQ’s methods work.
Quinn took over his publicity and exploited it for himself. This exposure was used by Quinn to re-launch his organisation on a higher level than he had managed before. Because nobody checked the facts about this man when he re-launched himself, he has been able to do a great deal more damage.
What had got Steve Collins interested in Quinn was  Quinn’s use of hypnotic anaesthesia for surgery performed by Quinn in conjunction with Dr. Jack Gibson a hypnotherapist and retired surgeon. Through a public relations exercise, he managed to re-launch himself on the Late, Late Show and in various newspaper articles as though he had never been exposed before as leader of a cultist group. Attempts by people at the time to provide relevant information to various parties suffered from the fact that reporters seemed unwilling to correct a story after it had gone out because they feared they would be sued, and there were one or two journalists who appeared to write down virtually every word that an interviewee said without checking on the facts.
The most extreme example of this was an article by a Linda Kavanagh in the Radio Times of October 25 1996 in which she repeated without question Quinn’s unfounded claims of bodybuilding success, many claims of healing and even his claim that no-one lived in his house in Malahide and Howth but himself, despite the fact that it was and is a commune inhabited mostly by his followers – he pretended that all the beds were for guests and she solemnly reported this! The result was that Quinn’s work on these surgical cases was presented as something unique or rare, although this is definitely far from the case. Dr. Gibson himself had performed many cases of hypnotic anaesthesia for surgery over many years and tutored Quinn and provided assistance for Quinn during the surgeries. Thankfully, over the years some journalists have done very good research – see Dialogue Ireland website for articles. There have been many critical exposes on radio and television, and Quinn has never successfully challenged any of these. Instead of saying that he learnt all he knew from Dr. Gibson he made it look like Gibson was assisting him.
Gay Byrne, the then host of the Late, Late Show, appeared to have forgotten that he himself interviewed Tony Quinn along with representatives of other groups on an edition of his show in 1974, and he also appeared to be unaware of the body of research on hypnotic anaesthesia and its clinical use over the last century and more, presenting it as a unique or rare feat, although this is definitely far from the case.

In 1995 Steve Collins won a world title amid mind games and chicanery.

The Sunday Times March 8th, 2009
By Alan Foley

As Steve Collins sat in the red corner at Millstreet’s Green Glens Arena awaiting Chris Eubank’s ostentatious ring entrance before their WBO world super-middleweight championship title bout on March 18, 1995, he was transfixed by the task he faced. It was not the heaviest of burdens though, as Collins, a substitute for Ray Closewho had failed a medical, had moved up from his middleweight position as a vacating champion. He knew he was ready and waited patiently, with a set of earphones on.

A month beforehand, at the fight announcement at Jury’s Hotel in Dublin, the pleasantries were soon submerged in a clutter of offensive jibes between the pair after Eubank reportedly insulted Dublin’s Lord Mayor, John Gormley. Collins, for his part, arrived in tweeds with an Irish wolfhound in tow, and irked the champion by stating he “was not an Englishman, but pretended to be one.”

Despite the fact that Eubank, perched on his 1975 Harley Davidson Shovelhead motorcycle, bore his usual narcissistic pout before making his way to the ring, his solemn expression was shallower and perhaps more fearful than ever before. News had leaked out beforehand that Collins had employed Dr Tony Quinn, a former Mr Ireland bodybuilder, who owned a gym in Eccles Street in Dublin.

Although it was claimed he was a hypnotist, his strength was to draw the best from the body, using the mind. He was essentially a health adviser and motivator. Eubank, despite being undefeated in his 43 professional fights, threatened to pull out.

“I want to call it off,” he said in the pre-fight interview. “I don’t know what I’m dealing with. I’m fighting someone who is mechanically orientated and it’s an unknown situation for me. It’s cheating and it’s unfair. If I had my way I’d walk away and that’s not me being a coward. It’s being sensible. I’m going into unknown territory.”

Approaching the fight, 30-year-old Collins admitted he was not entirely satisfied with his physical or his mental state. Starkly aware he would have to be at his best, he also required every advantage possible to overcome Eubank. He cast his mind back to a television show that he had watched featuring Quinn at work. It was to prove a life-changing experience.

“I wasn’t well before the fight and I had a lot of distractions and problems,” Collins said. “Tony was a sports psychologist who had come heavily recommended. I remembered not too long before-hand seeing his programme on RTE. He had done some work with people who were having serious operations and these people were being cut open without taking any anaesthetic. The medical world was baffled.”

Having opted to train in Las Vegas away from his wife Gemma and three children, the Dubliner led a focused existence as he prepared for the biggest fight of life. It was there where Quinn encouraged Collins, stressing he was unbeatable, as well as revising his nutritional intake, fitness and weight-training programmes. It was later learned the service cost Collins £360,000. It was something of a gamble by Collins, but one which proved a significant investment. Such a level of confidence was reached, he even offered to pay back all losing betting dockets placed on him to win, if he was beaten.

In Cork, he was vociferously backed by the 8,000 crowd hemmed into Milltown, whose biggest headline act previously was between Irish middleweight champion Pat O’Connor and Mossie Condon, or as it was billed, the “Clouting Celt from County Cork against the Blarney Tiger,” in 1942.

Only when match referee Ron Lipton, a former sparring partner of Muhammad Ali, briefed the fighters did Collins appear to burst from his stupor. From there, he fought bravely, unperturbed by his tag of underdog and played the script of hypnotic influence whenever he could, staring down at his opponent, in a titanic title fight that saw both men hit the canvas. Collins edged through on a unanimous points verdict after 12 rounds, revealing in the aftermath that Eubank had fallen for “the biggest con job of all time.”

In the dressing room afterwards, an exhausted Collins collapsed and had to be treated with oxygen while wrapped in a silver blanket.

“We did go in and say I was hypnotised,” Collins adds. “We said I couldn’t get cut or wouldn’t feel pain, but he opened me up and then knocked me, so he certainly proved that one wrong! It was great to win in Cork, as Collins is a famous name down there.”

Collins retained the title six months later, defeating Eubank at Páirc Uí Chaoimh back in Cork on a split decision when many claimed he still maintained the desire of a challenger.

“There was no point in playing tricks by the time that one came around, but I was just ready to beat him again and just tore into him,” he recalls.

The wounds though, proved deeper than a skin’s graze and despite coming through the two most tempestuous altercations of his career, the real challenge for Collins was only just beginning. Eubank stoked the fire a couple of years later when he said on Channel 5’s Live and Dangerous show that he “should’ve killed him.”

Collins was dragged into a legal battle with Barry Hearn and his company, Matchwork Boxing, for an alleged breach of contract. Hearn claimed Collins owed him 25% of the £220,000 he made on three fights from1995. The case at
Dublin’s High Court in early 1998, which lasted 27 days spread over seven weeks, dragged boxing and Collins through the mire. At one stage he even broke down in tears under the pressure.

The case gave graphic illustrations of just what went on around the Millstreet bout in particular. Collins’s main defence surrounded a number of contractual breaches by Hearn, who also represented Eubank. Most notably, it was heard that “pressure” had been put on Lipton before the first fight to be wary of the Dubliner’s “dirty tactics”.

However, the case ended with Collins once again victorious, and he claimed at the time: “Losing would have bankrupted me. It would have taken everything that I worked for, including my home and everything that went with it. I had a very successful career and we tried to be wise with my earnings. I had a little nest-egg but I put it all into this court case. It was the hardest fight of my life because it wasn’t in my arena.”

He recalled this week: “As soon as you get to the top, you get people like that who try and take something from you. It doesn’t bother me as I know the truth. I’m happy now and am satisfied with what I achieved.”

He always yearned for a duel with Roy Jones Jnr, but never got his wish. He defended the title seven times in all, most notably against Nigel Benn, opting to retire from the sport on medical advice in 1997. He vacated the title he won from Eubank at Milltown, thus closing the curtain on his career when he was arguably the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.

Collins, who worked as an electrician in the Guinness Brewery in Dublin before making a name for himself as a boxer in the US, now lives on a farm in England. He starred in the London gangster film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and appeared in U2’s Sweetest Thing video. Eubank retired, made a brief comeback, but was defeated by the up-and-coming Welshman Joe Calzaghe in Sheffield in October, 1997.

PDF copy of above article

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