The Rise & Fall Of Errol Christie
The career of Errol Christie might have finally ended in Manchester in 1993, in front a few hundred die-hard fans, but in reality it had ended many years earlier. Trevor Ambrose put the final nail into a once-promising career, a sad pitiful end to the boxing life which once promised so much.
Christie turned professional in 1982 with much fanfare. After a highly decorated amateur career, Christie turned over with world titles seemingly a more formality, aged just 19, Christie seemingly had the world at his feet.
Christie a mere boy in the boxing sense entered a man’s world and despite his best efforts couldn’t bridge the gap between a good amateur and a good professional. Sadly Christie was found wanting, the punch resistance could never equal his obvious skills.
The hype was high, Britain’s answer to Sugar Ray Leonard it was claimed, nobody could live up to that. Thirteen wins, twelve inside the distance, the hype seemed real. Heavily featured on ITV, Christie was handed a major platform, the story was following the desired script.
Frank Warren advised Christie not to spend time at the Kronk gym in Detroit, he didn’t listen and it probably did more harm than good. The notorious gym wars not beneficial to all. Although Christie says it was the worst mistake of his career not to stay with the legendary Emanuel Steward.
Soon after in 1984, Jose Seys ended his unbeaten run, and Christie never fully recovered from that stunning one round defeat.
Despite the size advantage, Christie should have dealt with the Belgium comfortably. After his win over Christie, it took Seys another 10 fights to record another win.
Excuses were made, the defeat ignored and Christie was fed the usual suspects to push the Seys loss further from the public consciousness.
Despite his young age the body of Christie was already breaking down. A problem with overdeveloped calves, later diagnosed as ‘compartment syndrome’ was causing him real problems. His arches were collapsing and Christie was also hindered by severe nosebleeds, the signs were not good.
Christie now 20-1 had a domestic rival to overcome, against a backdrop of racial tension in the county we saw an unsavoury, regrettable build-up to a fight that was anything but.
An eliminator for the British middleweight title, but the fight with Mark Kaylor was about so much more.
Calls for the fight to be cancelled because it was too racially charged were ignored, and a then massive £82,000 purse was put up for Christie and Kaylor to settle their differences in a red-hot atmosphere at Wembley Arena. The hate between the pair was real, a sign of the times in a less diverse 1985.
A fight that started on the cobbles at a pre-fight press conference ended on Bonfire Night with Christie looking ahead to an uncertain future.
Burt McCarthy the veteran manager of Christie said it was the worst he had ever seen his man box. In many ways, it was the exact opposite. Christie showed plenty, but yet again came up short but only after one of the greatest fights ever seen in a British ring.
Down in the opening 30 seconds, his legs already betraying him, Kaylor threatened to do what Seys had done a year earlier. But Christie survived and rallied back to drop Kaylor in an explosive opening round.
Kaylor was dropped again in the 3rd, but he would show his own resilience to finally end their personal feud in 8 rounds that will live long in the memory.
Christie never did fight for a British title, in fact, Christie didn’t fight for any professional title. A fact that would have seemed unbelievable at the start of his professional career.
The Christie story looked over, but he set out on another redemption trail. A few more wins and Sean Mannion was brought over and it was Christie’s finest hour.
The former world title challenger, albeit at light-middleweight, met Christie at his best. The one-time ‘Golden Boy’ was scintillating, his dazzling skills there for all to see. Was Christie finally about to deliver on all that promise?
But just over a month later Christie would hit rock bottom once again. Charlie Boston ended what momentum had been gained from the Mannion win, another stoppage defeat and any lingering hopes of title glory looked dead in the water.
After another defeat, McCarthy suggested retirement to Christie, at just 24, his career looked over.
Christie found work on the doors, continued the rest of his career in obscurity, with more defeats added to his record. Defeats to Michael Watson and then the final nail of the Ambrose fight and his career was over for good in 1993. Christie left the sport with a 32-8-1 record.
Retirement was a reality, and Christie enjoyed training the likes of Dermot O’Leary and Gianluca Viability in ‘white-collar boxing. Christie preached about knife-crime, had a market stall, and finally found peace.
But tragedy would strike, diagnosed with lung cancer, despite never having smoked, Christie had one final fight on his hands.
Christie would succumb to that horrible disease aged just 53, in 2017.