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20 Best TV Spin-Offs Ever – Pt.2: Top 10.

Yesterday Dom Kureen shared the first half of his TV spin-off top-20 with the world, today it’s time to find out which shows made the top ten.

*Years of broadcast and original series in parenthesis.

10. Saved By The Bell (1989-93, Good Morning Miss Bliss)

This is one case where the spin-off was far superior to the original. Wise cracking Zach Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) leads up a cast of pretty young things and uber dorks, whose antics usually come with a life lesson attached. In hindsight it looks a little cheesy, but was must see TV for any kids in the early 90’s.

9. Knowing Me, Knowing You (1994-95, On The Hour/The Day Today)

Having begun life as a character featured on BBC Radio 4’s “On The Hour”, and transferred to television with “The Day Today”, the Alan Partridge character was given his own series in  1994, with this spoof chat show. Steve Coogan masterfully portrays the hapless presenter, whose desperate attempts to curry favour with his guests inevitably backfire.

8. Happy Days (1974-84, Love, American Style)

Based in the 1950’s and 60’s, no show has spawned as many spin-offs as Happy Days, which was a spin-off itself. More than 10 years on air ended when the diminishing value of the classic sitcom struck a nadir – “The Fonz” jumping over a shark on water skis, thus coining the term ‘jumping the shark’, used in modern vernacular to describe a TV programme in decline.

7. Absolutely Fabulous (1992-2012, French and Saunders)

A sitcom brilliant in its uncensored bad behaviour and satirical humour, “Ab Fab”  featured Edina and Patsy, two hard-drinking, drug-taking, selfish middle-aged women. Their cruel humour zoning in on the hypocrisy of modern day society, much to the chagrin of Edina’s more moral and conservative daughter, Saffron.

6. CSI Miami (2002-12, CSI)

A Florida team of forensics investigators use cutting-edge scientific methods and old-fashioned police work to solve crimes. Horatio Caine (David Caruso) leads the way with understated brilliance, and as tough an act to follow as CSI was, its Miami successor was retrospectively the superior series.

5. A Different World (1987-93 The Cosby Show)

A Different World followed the student life of Denise Huxtable,  played by the gorgeous, talented Lisa Bonet, as she ditched the comfort of the Cosby bosom to attend Hillman College. Bonet lasted one season before getting knocked up by Lenny Kravitz. Her departure (and that of a young Marisa Tomei) didn’t harm the show, with four superior seasons preceding a flat finale.

4. Sesame Street (1969-present, Sam and Friends)

A long-time favourite of children and adults, Sesame Street bridges many cultural and educational gaps and has to date aired 4,378 episodes over the course of almost half a century. Big Bird leads a cast of characters teaching children numbers, colours and the alphabet. Bert and Ernie, Oscar the Grouch and Grover are just a few of the other creatures involved in this show, set on a city street full of valuable learning opportunities.

3. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-94, Star Trek)

Featuring a bigger and better USS Enterprise than its parent series, “TNG” is set 78 years after the original, in the 24th century. Instead of Captain James Kirk, a less volatile and more mature Captain Jean-Luc Picard (played by ultra smooth thesp’ Patrick Stewart) heads the crew of various humans and alien creatures in their adventures in space, aka: the final frontier.

2. Frasier (1993-2004, Cheers)

While many of Cheers’ spin-offs were tacky cash ins, Frasier had the staying power and depth of cast to last for 11 years and wave adieu on its own terms. Kelsey Grammar plays radio psychiatrist Frasier Crane, whose charm and sophistication beautifully dovetail with the rest of the ensemble, most notably brother Niles, who often steals the show courtesy of the excellent David Hyde Pierce.

1. The Simpsons (1989-present, The Tracey Ullman Show)

Beginning life as a series of short sketches produced by Matt Groening based on his own family, “The Simpsons” soon extended into a 25 minute weekly cartoon of its own. Purists will argue that it peaked during seasons 4-8, and that everything after season 20 (now on no.26) has been an abomination. Forget that for a minute though, The Simpsons revolutionised the cartoon comedy genre, and richly deserves its place atop the pile.

So, there you have it – tomorrow we’ll take a look at the worst spin-offs of all time, make sure you return and feel free to leave a comment in the section below. 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

20 Best TV Spin-Offs Ever: Pt.1 (20th-11th)

With last year’s UK première of Breaking Bad spin-off, Better Call Saul, receiving huge plaudits, Kureen thought the time was apt to share our 20 best and worst spin-offs to reach the small screen not including Saul’s antics. In part one Dom Kureen reveals positions 20 to 11. 

Stephen Colbert

*Years of broadcast and original series in parenthesis.

20. Muppet Babies (1984-91, The Muppets)

The 1980’s was a decade chock-full of cartoons with good intentions. The Muppet Babies revolved around the power of imagination, and gave kids (and possibly morally stunted adults) some ethical food for thought meshed with just enough entertainment to avoid being preachy.

19. Kenan and Kel (1996-2000, All That)

“Who loves orange soda…”
With catchphrases like the above, Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell were destined to captivate audiences from the get-go. What on paper looked naff was performed with gusto by the duo, providing the pinnacle of late 1990’s teenage satire during their pomp – With early 21st Century internet rumours of Kenan’s demise proving premature.

18. Going Straight (1978, Porridge)

Going Straight followed former jailbird Norman Stanley Fletcher as he attempted to adapt to life on the ‘outside’. Despite relying excessively on a so-so support cast, and not coming close to emulating its predecessor Porridge, Ronnie Barker was able to provide fitting closure for fans of the protagonist, while sporadically dropping memorable one-liners along the way.

17. Torchwood (2006-10, Doctor Who)

A year after Russell T Davies revived Doctor Who, he created this spin-off for the character ‘Captain Jack Harkness’ (John Barrowman), an immortal time-travelling former con man. A distinctively Welsh twist on the original saw Captain Jack heading up the Cardiff branch of the Torchwood institute, which deals with incidents involving aliens… And the title is an anagram of ‘Doctor Who’, those smarty clever bastards!

16. Xena Warrior Princess (1995-2001, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys)

Coming at a time when ‘girl power’ was in full force, Xena started life on the dark side, before eventually realising the error of her ways and turning face. With a strong, independent and alluring swagger, the series made up for some woeful scripts with enough action, titillation and engaging plot arcs to maintain it during a six-year run.

15. Angel (1999-2004, Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

The show about a guilt-ridden vampire with a human soul ran for five seasons and was a successful spin-off of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. David Boreanaz’s Angel and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy seemed to be stake-cross’d lovers, until Angel left to start his own series at the end of season three.

14. Mork and Mindy (1978-82, Happy Days)

This popular sitcom was borne out of a dream had by Happy Days’ Richie Cunningham in which alien Mork (played by an unknown Robin Williams) tried to take Richie back to his home planet of Ork. Series producer Garry Marshall was so impressed by Williams’s comic ability that he gave him his own series about an alien who comes to Earth to study human behaviour and moves in with a woman he meets.

13. The Colbert Report (2005-14, The Daily Show)

Political satirist Stephen Tyrone Colbert took on cable-news pundits in this show’s decade long run, which centred around his essential rightness about the issues of the day. Colbert portrayed a caricature of the conservative political pundits often seen on channels such as Fox News. In addition, the show was known for coming up with new words that enter the lexicon, most notably “truthiness.”

12. Summer Heights High (2007, We Can Be Heroes)

Chris Lilley nailed it with this ‘mockumentary’ based within the confines of the fictional Summer Heights high-school based in Sydney. The Australian comedian expertly portrayed all three of the main characters, allowing viewers an occasional window for empathy during the show’s otherwise relentless hilarity. 

11. Daria (1997-2001,  Beavis and Butthead)

Under rated cartoon following acutely perceptive, acerbic tongued teenager Daria Morgendorffer. Her self-esteem teacher can’t even remember her name, not that low self-esteem is a problem for Daria, who in one memorable exchange with her family explains that “I don’t have low self-esteem, it’s a mistake… I have low esteem for everyone else.”

Tune in again tomorrow for our top 10 spin-offs of all time, let us know what you think deserves the number one spot, and if you’re feeling kind please like and share the Kureen Facebook page x

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

20 Worst Spin-offs Ever. Pt.2: Top 10.

Little Britain Neighbours

In the final edition of our four part look at TV spin-offs, Dom Kureen names the ten worst to ever ‘grace’ the goggle box.
*Year of broadcast and parent series in parenthesis

10. Models Inc. (1994-95 Melrose Place)

Long before Hollyoaks there was Models Inc., a tawdry soap where pretty, affluent people became entangled in barely believable shenanigans for the benefit of booze addled late night channel surfers.

9. Baywatch Nights (1995-97, Baywatch)

Take Baywatch, remove any prospect of red swimsuit clad attractive people bouncing around in super slow-mo, add some paranormal activity and you have Baywatch Nights. A terrible spin-off that removed all the fun and sexiness of the original, but increased the terrible acting in spades.

8. That 80’s Show (2002, That 70’s Show)

Lifeless characters, actors so wooden they wouldn’t look out of place in a forest, and low budget cinematography reminiscent of a poorly connected webcam; It wasn’t clear if any/all of the above was done intentionally for effect… but the resulting dump ensured a rapid cancellation for this shameless attempt at a cash in.

7. Rock and Chips (2010-11 Only Fools and Horses)

Rock & Chips was a strange affair, a 90-minute amplification of one of the running gags in “Only Fools and Horses,” that concerning Rodney’s dubious parentage. A blurred narrative contributed to an unsatisfactory hybrid of classic Trotter cheekiness and something much more melancholic and heartfelt – neither of which hit the mark.

6. Buddies (1996, Home Improvement)

Dave Chapelle and friends

13 episodes of this spin-off were recorded, with only 5 reaching television screens before it was cancelled – the reason? As lead man Dave Chapelle himself stated: “It was a bad show. It was bad. I mean when we were doing it, I could tell this was not gonna work.”

5. Max and Paddy’s Road to Nowhere (2004, That Peter Kay Thing)

Peter Kay and Patrick McGuinness starred in this spin-off based on the two bouncers from “That Peter Kay Thing”. Unfortunately this lacked the sparkle of previous Kay efforts, as the once hilarious rotund comic began his decade long disappearance up his own arse.

4. Time of Your Life (Party of Five)

On “Party Of Five,” Jennifer Love Hewitt played a character named Sarah. Although this show was supposed to be a spin-off about Sarah, in reality it was little more than an audition reel for Hewitt, the popular teen icon unable to compensate for a painfully slow and boring narrative.

3. Little Britain USA (2008, Little Britain)

In its infancy “Little Britain” could be described as ground breaking and down right absurd in the best possible way. The second series started slowly, but gathered momentum, but by the third messrs Walliams and Lucas had resorted to shock tactics. By the time the show made it over the pond it was little more than a caricature of the past brilliance.

2. Joanie Loves Chachi (1982-83, Happy Days)

A mere seventeen episodes of this spin-off were made. As slight as that sounds, it still served as an overdose of sub-Laverne and Shirley unfunniness; songs that would offend Mr Blobby, supporting characters who warranted regular beatings, and story lines spread so thin that the penultimate episode was forced to resort to Happy Days flashbacks in lieu of a script.

1. Joey (2004-06, Friends)

This desperate spin-off of “Friends” tried to launch Matt LeBlanc’s Joey Tribbiani into his own sitcom. All kinds of production woes (re-casting, shifting behind-the-camera personnel) followed “Joey,” but NBC committed to two full seasons of the series in the hopes it would eventually land on its feet. Sadly, despite more changes in its second year, it ended up as just another failed spin-off in the annals of TV.

Thus concludes spin-off watch. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and please remember to like and share the Kureen Facebook page!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

20 Worst TV Spin-offs ever. Pt.1 (20th-11th)

Cleveland Show

Kureen has explored the best TV spin-off shows ever during the past couple of days, now it’s time to take a gander at the bottom feeders, with a two part list of the 20 worst of all time.

*Years of broadcast and parent series in parenthesis

20. Saved By The Bell: The College Years (1993-94, Saved By The Bell)

Saved By The Bell followed the lives of half a dozen teenagers (and one principal) as they navigated their way through Bayside high school’s minefield. This follow up adapted the formula for a college setting, but the same goofy gags that had previously flourished fell flat coming from older students, with an 18 year-old  Screech (Dustin Diamond) one of the most abhorrent characters in sitcom history.

19. The Cleveland Show (2009-13, Family Guy)

With all of the entertaining characters in Family Guy to choose between for a spin-off, Seth Macfarlane opted for Cleveland Brown, the least worthwhile member of the FG ensemble. What resulted was lethargic and rarely worth a chuckle, mercifully Fox put the animated series out of its misery after four laborious seasons.

18. AfterMash (1983-84, M*A*S*H)

AfterMash wasn’t M*A*S*H, despite desperately trying to emulate it without putting forth any effort and praying for some chemistry from an excruciatingly bland cast. As the title track of the original aptly stated: “suicide is painless”, as thousands of viewers eyed up their AK-47’s and contemplated.

17. Top of The Heap (1991, Married With Children)

Check this out if you want to see a young, pre-Friends Matt Le Blanc… and then find a device to wipe any trace of the woeful rhetoric from your mind’s eye, or else take enough psychedelic drugs to lay waste to the part of your brain that threatens to store the criminally corny dialogue you’ve been subjected to.

16. The Golden Palace (1992-93, The Golden Girls)

The lifeblood of The Golden Girls was the snappy repartee between the four main pensioners, all enjoying their twilight years and each other’s company. CBS thought they would strike while the iron was still somewhat warm by bringing the remaining core cast (Rue McClanahan, Betty White and Estelle Getty) back with a new series and a slightly fresh situation, but the idea of them running a hotel was far fetched, and it bombed in the ratings.

15. Girl Meets World (2014-Present, Boy Meets World)

From 1993 to 2000, viewers followed the relationship of Cory Matthews and Topanga Lawrence-Matthews on “Boy Meets World.” More than a decade later, the couple’s daughter, Riley, is trying to navigate her ‘tween years with all of the panache and wit of a moribund tea cosy.

14. Hello Larry (1979-80,  Diff’rent Strokes)

“Hello Larry” was part of Fred Silverman’s attempt to ruin, er, resurrect NBC, a channel whose comedy had plummeted toward the ratings doldrums. Despite its abysmal badness, the show ran for two seasons simply because so many of the network’s other offerings bombed, so they had nothing better to run; a fact that beleaguered network execs cheerfully admitted to.

13. Hot Bench (2014-Present, Judge Judy)

In America the court TV show is a tried and trusted formula that has made stars of a myriad of judges. “Hot Bench” attempted to shake up the usual concept by employing a three-judge panel. Created by Judge Judy Sheindlin, the series’ main issue is that the judges crave the spotlight too freely, like attention seeking toddlers with overflowing nappies, and the cases are too puerile for viewers to invest any fucks.

12. The Tortellis (1987, Cheers)

“The Tortellis” was a spin off of “Cheers” featuring Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman)’s eccentric family, who were infrequent recurring characters.  All were hilarious in the context of the parent show, but gave the impression of fish out of water when dumped into a vehicle that lacked any concept or purpose.

11.  Three’s A Crowd (1984-85, Three’s Company)

“Three’s a Crowd” can be aptly summed up as boring, direction-less, and painfully unfunny. The producers made no attempt to create a new and exciting vehicle for John Ritter’s brilliant physical comedy, content instead to bask in the glory of the exceptional Three’s Company, all the while milking this obese cash-cow until its teats shrivelled like raisins in the Sahara.

Agree with Dom’s list? Let us know in the comment section below. The top (bottom?) ten will be published tomorrow, so keep your eyes open and share, share, share!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Believing Is Seeing

Dom Kureen takes a look at the rapidly unravelling reality we’re faced with, as Rolf Harris becomes the latest high profile individual accused of sexual abuse.

Rolf Harris

Rolf Harris CBE is the latest in a protracted chain of distinguished dignitaries to be hauled before judge and jury for alleged acts of sexual abuse, with many victims purportedly shy of legal consenting age when molested.

The 84-year old has long been depicted as an adopted English national treasure, with his art, TV programmes and light-hearted musical compositions providing easily consumable, tongue-in-cheek entertainment for the gratification of the throngs who have adored him for aeons.

For an esteemed icon to be ostensibly duplicitous with a generational circle of high profile deviants is profoundly unsettling – not least with regards to the superficial subject of heroes: sick revelations shift paradigms and shake perceptions. Individuals once veiled in prestige are suddenly exposed as nefarious reprobates.

The essence of Jimmy Saville’s cumulative obituary immediately in the wake of his death cut an epitaph to a selfless, wholehearted entertainer and charitable soul, whose unrelenting generosity raised several millions of pounds and enhanced a host of otherwise negatively afflicted individual existences.

A sympathetic portrait of a kind soul, despite the fact that hundreds of people were aware of deceit.

There was no mention of the free reign Saville’s position afforded him; blind eyes were turned and suspicions purposefully disregarded in order not to jeopardise the late DJ’s awareness spreading affiliation with various organisations.

To have known the horror that Saville was capable of and remain mute makes all of those observers who protected his legacy for their own prosperity complicit in sheltering a paedophile, and guilty of allowing hundreds of naïve, innocent children to suffer trauma.

While Saville was never brought to task during his lifetime, his unmasking did at least prove the catalyst for a multitude of subsequent convictions.

Inevitably this is merely the tip of the iceberg. ‘Operation Ore’ took place from 2002 until 2003, locating over 10,000 people guilty of paying to view images of child pornography online, many of whom were/are household names.

Pete Townshend (with guitar): Came under scrutiny during 'Operation Ore'
Pete Townshend (with guitar): Came under scrutiny during ‘Operation Ore’

For legal reasons, kureen.co.uk cannot name any of the MPs, academics, musicians or other celebrities linked with the case (if you look in the right places you can find the information for yourself), but something serendipitous transpired just as the faeces were threatening to hit the fan.

With the ‘Sunday Times’ newspaper preparing to print a list of names connected to the investigation, an eleventh-hour D-Notice was passed in the House of Commons, prohibiting the article from making first editions. Speculation suggested that then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, felt the timing of the piece was inappropriate, with British troops set to be sent to war in Iraq.

There were a couple of high profile individuals who did become exposed during the case: ‘The Who’ guitarist Pete Townshend, who cracked wise with police under interrogation, and comedian John Thompson, most notable for his jazz club skits on ‘The Fast Show’ just over a decade ago.

Both admitted to having paid to access child pornography websites – Townshend claiming he was doing research for a book and Thompson asserting that he had suffered abuse as a teenager and felt that this would aid his rehabilitation. Both remain in the public eye today and there is very little mention of their links with Operation Ore anywhere online.

The point of referencing this case is not to expose any specific individual; it is simply to highlight the fact that as a species we too often readily accept information that is filtered into our psyche subliminally by deliberate design.

Tragically as a society we have become conditioned to put more stock in social networks and emulating celebrity than querying the stream of data discharged from biased barrels.

Believing is seeing
Believing is seeing

The truth is out there for the inquisitive mind, it’s just buried deep beneath the superficial, and while it would be comforting to assume that the unravelling Illusion of a clutch of disturbed creatures, brought to justice in their twilight years, provides a glimpse of a shiny, progressive brand of informative media, it’s a notion fraught with nativity.

Politicians do not represent the masses; they spout half-truths and hyperbolic claims in different coloured ties. Their goal is not to unite a nation, it is to placate a restless society who are seeking revolution and ominously threatening to rebel against a shallow, stagnant order.

This is a tempestuous generation, albeit one currently under stoic hex. Around 35% of eligible voters didn’t enter the polling stations for the 2010 General Elections as a result of growing apathy or in some cases protest. Those who did place a cross in a box couldn’t decide upon a conclusive candidate, necessitating the farcical coalition that saddled the country with the most mis-matched double act since Pete Doherty and Elton John traumatised the ‘Live 8’ audience in the summer of 2005.

“Democracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation.” Atifete Jahjaga.

Do heroes still exist, or will observers continually be left nauseated by those they once revered?

The truth is… Maybe we can’t handle the truth after so many years of watered down reality. What we don’t know is unquestionably far scarier than the titbits that we do.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Top 10 British boxers of all time (Part Two)

In the first part of Ken Irons’ article he revealed the first half of his top ten British boxers of all time, this time we find out who made the top five (and more importantly the number one slot!)  So who did our man at ringside feel were the premier pugilists from the land of the Rose? Read on and find out…

5) Chris Eubank 

Middle & Super Middleweight (45-5-2, 23 KO’s)

London born Eubank moved, in his teens, to New York, where he eventually fought off drug, alcohol and shop lifting dependencies when he took up boxing. 

On his return to the U.K. he was undefeated world middleweight champion for over five years and unbeaten in all fights in his first ten years as a pro.

His lisping drawl, eccentric attire and foppish attitude antagonised some (including arch adversary Nigel Benn) but masked a steely character.

 4) Carl Froch

Super Middleweight (33-2, 24 KO’s)

Froch, from Nottingham, is generally regarded as the best pound for pound British fighter currently plying his trade.

Nicknamed ‘The Cobra’, the 38 year-old has won 33 of his fights (24 knock outs) and suffered his only defeats by decision, with a record of 9–2 in world title fights, four victories being by knock out.

 –

3) John Conteh           

Light Heavyweight (34-4-1, 23 KO’s)

Aged only 19 Lancastrian Conteh won a gold medal at middleweight in the 1970 Olympics.

On turning professional he won the WBC light heavyweight crown in 1974 and held it until 1977. He retired in 1980 with a record of 34 wins, 4 losses and a solitary draw.

Regrettably he was another superbly talented fighter who could have done better still had it not been for an alleged penchant for the high life.

 –

2) Joe Calzaghe CBE

Super Middleweight (46-0, 32 KO’s)

British Lionhearts v Italia Thunder - World Series of Boxing

Welsh southpaw Calzaghe held WBO, WBA WBC & IBF super middle titles and is the longest reigning super middle champion in history, retiring undefeated in 2009.

His popularity has since resulted in appearances on national TV shows, while a perfect professional record of 46-0 is one of the finest in the history of elite level sparring, trumped only by Rocky Marciano (49-0) and Floyd Mayweather Jr (47-0).      

– 

1) Lennox Lewis CM, CBE

Heavyweight (41-2-1, 32 KO’s)

Born in West Ham, Lewis moved to Canada in childhood but retains dual nationality. At 6 feet 5 inches and around 17 stone, easy going, chess playing Lewis was a supreme boxer with a knock out punch in either hand.

He held the undisputed world title and never ducked a fight in an era (nineties) when there were plenty of dangerous fighters around, such as Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Vitali Klitschko (all of whom Lewis subjugated.)

His only professional defeats were duly and emphatically avenged in resultant re-matches.

What do you think of Ken’s choices? Should Ricky Hatton have made the cut? How about Frank Bruno or Herbie Hyde (ok, the last one might be a joke!)

Written by Ken Irons

I have always had a love of the written word and have frequently, over the years, exasperated editors, publishers et al with my copious submissions of work. My highly advanced years I find a plus, as it means not having to research so much - I can remember it if it's in the last century or so!

Top 10 British boxers of all time (part one)

Britain has produced some incredible pugilists over the past century, but who are the cream of the crop? In part one of this article Ken Irons gives the first five of his top ten British boxers of all time, focusing on numbers 10 to 6.

Nigel Benn

It is inevitably difficult to assess athletes of any kind when comparing different eras; the contemporary boxer has the advantages of improved fitness levels, whereas fighters of fifty and sixty years ago, in the days before multi titles for each weight division, had but one world title to fight for.

They didn’t, like today, get a shot at a title when they’d only had to undergo a handful of fights. Taking these points into account, I have done my best to come up with a fair assessment of the top ten British boxers of all-time based on a series of criteria that includes longevity and performances on the big stage; the latter one reason why some notable names have missed the cut.

10) Sir  Henry Cooper OBE KSG

 Heavyweight (55 fights, 40 wins,  14 losses, 1 draw, 27 K.O’s)                                                         

Cooper, otherwise fondly referred to as Our Enery’, was arguably the most popular British fighter since the war and, although he held only Commonwealth and European titles as opposed to a world strap, is still remembered for his fearsome left hook.

It was this punch which, famously, floored Muhammad Ali in perhaps Cooper’s most notorious bout although Ali, aided by some alleged sharp practice from his corner to give him extra recovery time, went on to stop Cooper with a badly cut eye.

9) Barry McGuigan MBE

Featherweight (32-3, 28 KO’s)

McGuigan, born in Clones, Republic of Ireland, and nicknamed the ‘Clones Cyclone’, was a skilful boxer and powerful puncher whose 32 winning professional fights included 28 knock outs. 

He won the world title and successfully defended it twice. His career was at it’s height during the time of ‘The Troubles’ (a religion conflict mainly based in Northern Ireland) and McGuigan earned tremendous respect and admiration from both sides of the political divide, not only via his in-ring accomplishments, but also by his heartfelt, authentic neutrality. 

 –

8) Naseem Hamed

Bantam, Super Bantam & Featherweight (36-1, 31 KO’s)

Southpaw Hamed, born in Sheffield, was a very exciting, if unorthodox fighter who packed a great punch with either fist, knocking out 31 of his 36 victims (losing only one fight in his professional career).

He held WBC, WBO, IBF & WBA world titles but retired at only 28 years of age, this despite being hailed by some as potentially Britain’s best ever fighterwhose only fault allegedly was a limited enthusiasm for training camp.  

7) Lloyd Honeyghan     

Welterweight (43-5, 31 KO’s)

Jamaica born Honeyghan, a supreme combatant, was responsible for one of the greatest world championship wins ever achieved by a British fighter when, in 1986, he travelled to the USA to defeat their seemingly invincible champion Donald Curry in 6 rounds.

He was WBC, WBA & IBF champion from 1986 to 1987 and WBC champion 1988  1989, although he famously dumped his WBA belt in a trash bin due to their policy of allowing fights in South Africa.  

6) Nigel Benn

Middle & Super Middleweight (42-5-1, 35 KO’s)

Ex soldier Benn, born in Ilford, was one of the most exciting fighters Britain has ever produced and the crowds would flock to witness his aggressive, barnstorming approach to contests, which resulted in many knock out victories.

He won world titles at both middle and super middleweight and had two epic battles against his nemesis and arch rival Chris Eubank, the first of which he lost, with the rematch concluding in a hotly disputed draw.

Check back with Kureen tomorrow for the top five and let us know if you agree with Ken’s selections or not! 

Written by Ken Irons

I have always had a love of the written word and have frequently, over the years, exasperated editors, publishers et al with my copious submissions of work. My highly advanced years I find a plus, as it means not having to research so much - I can remember it if it's in the last century or so!

Top Ten Heavyweight Boxers of all time (part two: 5-1)

Yesterday Ken Irons shared the first half of his top ten heavyweight boxers of all-time, now it’s time to step into the ring with the elite, as he reveals his top five!

Butterbean: Failed to make the cut
Butterbean: Failed to make the cut

5) JOE LOUIS
Record: 66-3 (52 KO’s)

Joe Louis is a boxing icon who held the title (before it became fragmented) from 1937 until 1949, the longest period ever for a champion to reign.

He was undefeated until sustaining a 12-round loss to Germany’s Max Schmeling in 1936. After winning the title he had a return fight with the German in 1938, a fight which triggered deep emotions owing to the anti-Nazi feelings prevalent at the time (Hitler had reportedly personally encouraged Schmeling to win the title for the honour of the third Reich, although there was never any question that the fighter himself was involved in politics in any way). The fight lasted 124 seconds with Schmeling knocked senseless having been floored 3 times.

A tribute to Joe Louis in Detroit
A tribute to Joe Louis in Detroit

Louis retired in 1949 but then had to come back due to financial problems as he owed a large sum in taxes. This caused anger amongst fans and the general public as a whole because Joe had served his country well, both in wartime (in the U.S. Army) and as a unifying personality, loved by both blacks and whites.

The Government displayed no such sentimentality and Joe was reduced to working as a wrestler to pay off his debt, having first lost comeback fights to both Ezzard Charles and Rocky Marciano. He did receive official approval in death however, when the then U.S. President, Ronald Reagan, requested that he be buried at Arlington Cemetery.

4) GEORGE FOREMAN
 Record: 76-5 (68 KO’s)

George Foreman

Foreman, at 6 feet 3 inches, was not a stylish fighter but he was a devastating puncher, winning the title in 1973 against the seemingly invincible Joe Frazier when he demolished him in 2 rounds.

The following year, at age 25, he lost the crown to 32 year-old Muhammad Ali in the famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ in Zaire. Foreman was expected to win the contest but was overcome by Ali’s ‘rope a dope’ tactics whereby the latter leaned on the ropes, raised both gloves in protective mode and encouraged Foreman to eventually punch himself out.

Foreman always maintained that he had not felt right during the fight leading to some speculation that his water may have somehow been ‘spiked’, but this idea never got beyond the unsubstantiated rumour stage.

Foreman retired soon after and practised religion as a preacher. He came back to regain the title against Michael Moorer, at age 45. This made him the oldest man to win the title. He finally hung up the gloves for good in 1997.

3) LENNOX LEWIS
Record: 41-2-1 (32 KO’s)

London born but having spent part of childhood in Canada, Lewis holds dual nationality. At 6 feet 5 inches and 245 pounds, he was a superb boxer with a knock-out punch in either hand. 

Dispensing of all of the elite pugilists of his era, Lewis achieved amateur success when representing Canada at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, defeating future great Riddick Bowe for the gold medal, subsequently turning professional and switching allegiance to Britain during the same year.

He held the undisputed world title and never suffered an unavenged defeat, retiring in 2004, having stopped Vitali Klitschko via TKO in his final bout.

2) LARRY HOLMES
Record: 69-6 (44 KO’s)

Larry Holmes

Holmes has suffered more in his rightful claim to immortality than perhaps any other fighter due to the unfortunate timing of his rise to fame.

The fact that Muhammad Ali’s career was still ingrained in the hearts and minds of fans the world over when HolmesAli’s ex sparring partner, came into prominence, detracted greatly from the new champion’s overall standing.

He was, however, at 6 feet 3 inches, a consummate boxer/ fighter who could, in truth, match Ali in most aspects of his craft. As a one punch knock-out specialist he was perhaps superior to his old ‘employer’ who was more of adamaging’ puncher and his left jab is generally considered to be the best ever in the division.

Holmes was champion from 1978 – 1985 and his 19 consecutive defences of the title ranks second only to Joe Louis.

1) MUHAMMED ALI
Record
: 56-5 (KO’s 37)

Muhammed Ali

Muhammad Ali was a man whose fame transcended the sport due to his strongly held and fearlessly expressed political and religious beliefs (including his refusal to fight in Vietnam) and his generally extrovert personality.

He was the first champion to overtly ‘wind up’ his opponents, often causing trouble at press conferences, pre fight interviews and the like. This however was all part of his deliberate practice of getting the better of an opponent mentally which he invariably did, and which usually paid off for him in terms of results.

Ali’s dancing style, lightening fast reflexes and astonishing hand speed, wherein, in his own words,he “floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee”,were just too much for most of his bewildered and disheartened opponents to cope with

He is the only three time lineal world heavyweight champion, winning the title in 1964, 1974 and 1978. It should also be remembered that his ‘prime years’, 1967 – 1971, were taken from him when his license was taken away following the Vietnam draft incident.

So there it is, the top ten heavyweight boxers of all-time and not a Rocky Balboa or Butterbean in sight! Let us know your thoughts on Ken’s choices in the comment section below.

Written by Ken Irons

I have always had a love of the written word and have frequently, over the years, exasperated editors, publishers et al with my copious submissions of work. My highly advanced years I find a plus, as it means not having to research so much - I can remember it if it's in the last century or so!

Top 10 heavyweight boxers of all time (part one: 10-6)

His “Best of British Boxers” article received a double thumbs up from legendary pugilist Riddick Bowe last month, now Ken Irons returns to share his top ten heavyweight boxers of all time. Part one focuses on numbers 10 through 6.

The legendary Riddick Bowe enjoyed Ken's previous article
The legendary Riddick Bowe enjoyed Ken’s previous article

In assessing the comparative merits of fighters whose respective careers span a long period of time, I have resorted to the commonly held premise that all sportsmen/women can only improve as time progresses due to the better fitness levels, diet, training regimes etc. now available.

 It is for this reason that I have deliberately omitted some of the champions of yesteryear – men like Dempsey, Johnson and Tunney – from my selection.

However, whilst it is true that Rocky Marciano, had I included him, would not have been the oldest fighter to appear, I feel that his small stature (today he’d have been a cruiserweight) goes against him.

Another negative is the fact that, although he holds the only perfect record in the division, the fifties was not an exceptional era for heavyweights and he never really fought any outstanding fighters (with the exceptionof Joe Louis, at that time well past his bestand Archie Moore – also past his best and, in reality, only a blown up light-heavyweight).

As is inevitable when constructing such lists, there are also other great champions with exemplary records who narrowly miss the cut – Wladimir Klitschko and Riddick Bowe amongst them.

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10) KEN NORTON
Record: 42 wins, 7 losses, 1 draw (33 KO’s )

Ken Norton Muhammed Ali

Norton, only the second man to beat Ali, was famous for his idiosyncratic cross armed defence which he used to good effect against the great fighters around in his era. Although he was subsequently outpointed by Ali in a return fight, the judges’ verdict in this contest was deemed at the time to be one of the most ill considered and unfair on record.

Norton’s unsuccessful fight with Larry Holmes for the title is rated one of the very best ever seen in the division.

Unfortunately however, it left Norton with the dubious distinction of being the only heavy weight champion who never won a title fight (the WBC having awarded him the crown prior to the Holmes fight as a result of a contract dispute they had with Leon Spinks). Any dreams Norton may have had of regaining the crown were then crushed by Holmes retaining it for the next 7 years!

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9) EVANDER HOLYFIELD
Record: 44-10-2 (29 KO’s)

Holyfield, nicknamed ‘The Real Deal’, was aundisputed world champion at both cruiser and heavyweight.

He is the only 4 time world champion, winning the WBA, WBC and IBF titles in 1990, the WBA and IBF titles in 1993 and the WBA title in 1996 and 2000Among those he defeated were Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes and George Foreman although, it has to be said, both Holmes and Foreman were in their early forties at the time he fought them.

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8) VITALI KLITSCHKO
Record: 45-2 (41 KO’s)

Vitali Klitschko

Klitschkoqualified PhD, nicknamed Dr Ironfistand currently Mayor of Kiev, was the first European for many years to make an impact on the heavyweight boxing scene

At 6 feet 7 inches and a superbly fit 240 pounds or so, he brought a new focus to the division which was traditionally ruled by American fighters. Whilst interest in the sport had begun to wane in the states, via the gradual decline of activity in the amateur ranks. By the turn of the century in Europe a new enthusiasm was taking hold. Klitschko took the WBC title in 1999 beating Herbie Hide in 2 rounds.

Klitschko’s height, reach, punching power and boxing skills established him as an all time great. His only 2 losses were to Chris Byrd and Lennox Lewis. He has always maintained a steadfast refusal to fight his younger brother, Wladimir, another outstanding champion.

7) JOE FRAZIER
Record: 32-4-1 (27 KO’s)

Ali and Frazier

“Smokin'” Joe Frazier was an aggressive, bustling type of fighter with a thunderbolt left hook, who won the title in 1970 and, in retaining it in the massively hyped ‘fight of the century’ in 1971, was the first man to beat Muhammad Ali. 

He lost the title to another attacking fighter in 1973 when he took on the heavier George Foreman who, after flooring Frazier several times in a brutal encounter, knocked him out in round two.

He subsequently lost twice to Ali (the second of these fights being the gruelling “Thrilla in in Manila, which left both men in hospital) and again to Foreman, leaving Big George and Ali as his only conquerors.

6) MIKE TYSON
Record: 50-6* (44 ko)

Tyson, the youngest man to win the WBC, WBA and IBF titles at 20, is perhaps the most destructive puncher the division has known.

This made him capable, especially in the early days of his career, of suddenly demolishing an opponent in a split second, no matter the current state of the contest. He won the WBC title in 1986 and the WBA and IBF in 1987. He defended the title 9 times before losing to underdog James ‘Buster’ Douglas in 1990.

His downward slide was not helped when he changed management. He also achieved notoriety for the ear biting escapade in his rematch with Evander Holyfield and activities outside the ring, which included a rape charge, imprisonment and money problems(despite his massive ring earnings and lucrative endorsements).

*Tyson also fought two bouts that ended as ‘no contests’.

Tune in tomorrow for the second part of Ken’s article, where he’ll reveal his top five heavyweight boxers of all time. In the meantime let us know your thoughts on the list so far in the comment section below, and please ask people to ‘like’ our Facebook page.

Written by Ken Irons

I have always had a love of the written word and have frequently, over the years, exasperated editors, publishers et al with my copious submissions of work. My highly advanced years I find a plus, as it means not having to research so much - I can remember it if it's in the last century or so!

King of Promoters – The amazing story of Don King

Regular contributor Ken Irons regales Kureen readers with the amazing story of charismatic, wild-haired boxing promoter Don King.

Don King

Don King was born in 1931 in Cleveland, Ohio. From a young age he realised that, due to his colour and lack of social status, he would have to fight hard to achieve his ambitions. The first of these ambitions was to become a lawyer and to this end he went to Kent State University.

Ever the pragmatist however, he was persuaded by his elder sibling to drop out and to join him in illegal bookmaking and the numbers racket, then a way of life in the city.

King’s aptitude for numbers and his phenomenal memory proved highly beneficial in this new, if shady, enterprise and he soon ran his own operation. Something, however, that Don had assimilated, both from his upbringing and this work on Cleveland’s mean streets, had instilled in him a ruthless mindset that would almost bring about his downfall.

Don King 3

He had learned that: you have to grab what you want before the other guy gets it; no one is going to give you something for nothing; and, if someone does you down and you show them mercy, then they’ll do it again and again. Thus it happened that on two occasions, in 1954 and 1966, King ended the lives of two human beings.

When the cases came to trial in 1966 it was established that the first man had been shot in the back by King as he attempted to rob one of the latter’s gambling houses. This case was pronounced justifiable homicide.

In the second case, in 1966, King was convicted of 2nd degree murder for stomping to death an employee who owed him $600. The employee, an unfit and weedy man, stood no chance when confronted by the 6 foot plus, heavily built King, who stomped and mercilessly kicked him to death. A police officer, who had witnessed part of the slaughter, was wholly mortified by it and later described the horror of seeing the victims head flapping from side to side, propelled by the bigger man’s boots.

The conviction was subsequently reduced by the judge to non-negligent murder and King served just under 4 years. He was later pardoned for the crime in 1983 by Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes and there were letters of support from Jesse Jackson and other influential parties.

In the meantime Don used his incarceration to good effect and read extensively (notably on Philosophy), thus helping to mould the intelligent yet verbose speaker the public would soon marvel at. He was particularly prone to classic quotations, an idiosyncrasy that would remain with him.

Alas, these were interspersed with regular malapropisms that, despite a fierce intelligence, he seemed blissfully unaware of. However, his mode of communication, an important part of which seemed to involve never answering a direct question when he could instead divert the questioner’s attention by rambling on to his heart’s content, served him very well in the practice of negotiation that his career ultimately demanded.

On his release from prison King moved into boxing. After working with an experienced local promoter, Don Elbaum, he made a crucial move when he persuaded Muhammed Ali to box in a charity exhibition, staged to help a local hospital for black people.

There followed, in 1974, King’s golden hour. All he had learned to date: the determination, the bargaining skills, the ruthless business ethic, were used to negotiate with Ali, Foreman, their managements, the boxing authorities and heads of foreign government alike, to produce one of the biggest and most famous fights ever – the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ – Ali v Foreman in Zaire.  Vitally, a special arrangement was brokered with the Zaire Government to secure the (then record) $10 million purse.

King maintained his position as a major promoter throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, promoting the likes of Larry Holmes, Roberto Duran, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Julio Cesar Chavez, Bernard Hopkins and many others.

Always interested in music he also promoted The Jacksons ’84 ‘victory tour’. His other abiding interest – the cause of his fellow blacks – was served by his acquisition of an African American community weekly paper in Cleveland.

It would have been nice to think that King’s career was free of further problems involving the law. After all, his omnipresent towering figure, complete with spiky hair, standing in the ring flanked by the world’s best fighters as he beamed happily into the camera, was now a familiar sight the world over.

Nor did he confine himself to posturing only at his own promotions – on one famous occasion rival promoter Bob Arum was forced to clamber up the steps and bravely restrain King from entering the ring at Arum’s own promotion.

Outside of the ring, he had successfully integrated into society: he held an Honorary Doctorate of Humane letters degree from Central State University and had publicly backed presidential candidates.

It therefore shocked many people when King’s business methods came under serious scrutiny. He was sued by practically every one of the big name fighters he promoted for defrauding them: by Ali for $1.1million, Holmes for $10 million, Tim Witherspoon for $25 million, Tyson for $100million ad nauseam. Terry Norris alleged that King had conspired with his manager to underpay him. King settled out of court for $7.5 million, and conceded to Norris’s wish that the settlement be made public.

Don King 5

King’s normal practice was to settle out of court and thus Tyson was eventually paid $14 million, Witherspoon $1 million, Holmes $150,000 and so on. A particularly chilling example of King’s ruthlessness came with the Ali settlement; In 1982 Ali – who, it should be remembered, had kick-started King’s career by agreeing to box at the latter’s charity exhibition – had sued King for short changing him in the brutal Larry Holmes fight, during which Ali took a severe beating.

King’s response was to approach one of Ali’s old friends, a man called Jeremiah Shabazz, give him a suitcase containing $50,000 in cash, a letter ending Ali’s lawsuit against King, and instructions to deliver them to Ali. The letter even gave King the rights to promote any future Ali fights.

Ali was in hospital at the time showing the early symptoms of the cruel illness that has now taken hold of him. He was, according to his old friend, ‘mumbling’ a lot, however, he signed the letter. Shabazz later regretted helping King and it was reported that Ali’s lawyer was reduced to tears on hearing that his client had ended the lawsuit without telling him.

In a 1992 senate investigation into organised crime, King invoked the 5th amendment when questioned about his connections to ‘Godfather’ John Gotti. He subsequently deemed any such allegations as “racist”. The man who no less a writer than Norman Mailer had hailed as a “genius”, was characterised by Mike Tyson as “a wretched, slimy, reptilian motherfucker, who would kill his own mother for a dollar”.

King launched a $2.5 billion defamation suit against ESPN after a documentary claimed that he had “killed not once, but twice”, had threatened to break Larry Holmes’s legs, and cheated Meldrick Taylor out of $1 million then threatened to have him killed. The case was dismissed.

Don King’s wife died in 2010 at age 87. He has a daughter, 2 sons and 5 grandchildren. Although he has inevitably lost some of his strength and menace at 83, his ambition persists and he has made it clear that he will never retire.

Rather, he still plans and dreams of his next possible promotion and, of course, the resultant payday.

Written by Ken Irons

I have always had a love of the written word and have frequently, over the years, exasperated editors, publishers et al with my copious submissions of work. My highly advanced years I find a plus, as it means not having to research so much - I can remember it if it's in the last century or so!