Boxing


Frank Warren Leads New British Invasion

10.06.04 – Premier British fight promoter and Sports Network chief Frank Warren mounts a new charge to the shores of America and beyond behind the spearhead of FW Radio, the ground breaking live Internet broadcast arm of the innovative www.frankwarren.tv. Utilizing a multi pronged approach that combines the crack skills of leading professionals in such fields as sports commentating, print journalism and cutting edge technology, FW Radio brings the raw excitement of boxing at it's best into every corner of the globe. Read on to learn more about FW Radio and how this forward thinking promotional visionary is breaking down barriers in his drive to bring the sport of boxing into the twenty first century.

Frank Warren runs one of the world's largest boxing promotion firms, Sports Network, based in the near vicinity of London, England. The most powerful figure in European boxing has long been a leader in the role of establishing new strategies to bring the sport closer to it's fans. During the last half year, Warren has embarked on a course of action that places his stable of Britain's finest fighters truly on a world stage. "What we're trying to do is provide people, who find themselves unable to do so either in person or through the broadcast services of our television partners, a manner in which to experience and enjoy our fight cards," he said. "We provide this broadcast service, FW Radio, from all of our shows and have been doing so for about six months. We've had a great response and our site www.frankwarren.tv has been getting up to 200,000 hits on the day of our shows. It's just one of manners in which we plan on bringing what we do to a global audience, as new technologies will afford us additional avenues in the very near term future as well."

The website that houses FW Radio is a multifaceted operation operated under the watchful eye of Ed Simons. Simons knows firsthand the power that radio broadcasts hold for those unable to see a much anticipated fight card or a favorite fighter. "I grew up with boxing on the radio and boxing works on the radio," he said. "The whole sense of excitement that the sport brings comes across very well with this particular medium and we're trying to reach a dedicated audience around the world. We're looking to create a worldwide audience and we are delighted that people are listening in. We run a great radio service with great guest color commentators and it works very well."

The man who makes it all happen, technologically, is Mark Harnell. Joined by the dedicated staff of his company ID&M, the Kidderminster native spends as much as nineteen continuous hours at a venue during the course of preparing for, carrying out and then tearing down on behalf of a single live FW Radio broadcast. For Harnell, who also designs and maintains websites for such fight figures as Frank Maloney, Joe Calzaghe and Scott Harrison among others, it's not so much an endurance marathon but rather a labor of love. "I'm there first one there at a fight venue, at seven o'clock in the morning," says Harnell with a laugh. "The first thing we do is do all the cabling in order to bring the telephone lines to where they need to be and that alone can take two or three hours."

"We then set up all the radio equipment and many Macintosh computers as the whole site is run on Apple Mac software. We then move on to the more technical side of things, which is setting up radio on the web server so people can clearly hear the audio broadcast on the website. Then later on I just sit and watch the boxing, which I really love, especially the undercard fights. People assume that because the fighters are young, and in many cases, in four round fights, that the bouts will be boring. That's not the case, and they're getting more and more exciting."

Sports radio lives or dies through application of the spoken word and the ability of an on air announcing team to vividly bring to life the competitive action taking place. The best radio announcers weave rich imagery together with pertinent factual knowledge in order to produce a captivating experience for listeners. In the UK today there is no better broadcast team than FW Radio's play by play announcer Ross Browning and color commentator Iain Axon. Browning honed his skills for years with one of Britain's largest news organizations, ITN, before joining Frank Warren's organization and feels that their web broadcasts have much to offer that can't be found anywhere else. "When we started FW Radio, we were doing something that was unique and as far as we know, it still is," said the veteran broadcaster. "It's a real privilege to provide commentary world wide for British based fights."

"What I particularly like about it is that we don't just do the main event. I don't know if it's the same in the United States but in the United Kingdom when you listen to a fight on radio, nine time out of ten it'll only be the main event that's broadcast. You don't get to hear commentary on the undercard fights as well and they are at times better matches than the headlining event. What I also like about what we do is the camaraderie between everyone from the ring whip, Ernie Draper, to the ring announcers, to the back room staff, to the trainers and the boxers. We have everyone on the air as guests and while it's a very professional operation, we all have a laugh at the same time. I think that's central to what we do."

"There are two types of people in boxing; those who enjoy boxing and everything it brings and those who are just in it for the money. I feel that everyone connected with Frank Warren and Sports Network, the website and FW Radio, genuinely love the sport. I think that really comes off in our broadcasts as well and we're getting better and better with each show. While we are funded by Sports Network, the website and radio broadcast service is done independently, and we call things how we see it. We report and we broadcast impartially as we write and say things that may not be the party line. If there's a question that we feel the public would want to ask Frank Warren while we're interviewing him, we'll ask it. If the so-called house fighter is not doing well during one of our broadcasts, we say that on commentary. If we believe that fighter has lost but he was awarded the victory, we'll say we feel it was a bad decision. We are not mouthpieces and if we were just propaganda, the whole venture wouldn't work. You have to be honest to the public, that is the key to our success on FW Radio and Sports Network wouldn't have it any other way."

Browning's broadcast partner is none other than Iain Axon. The in-house journalist for www.frankwarren.tv, Axon's on air color commentary is as timely and concise as his
precision writing style, something that's also put to good use during an FW broadcast. "I haven't done much radio previously but I'm really enjoying it," said Axon. "I provide the analysis and tips during a broadcast while Ross calls the action. He asks me whose going to win and when, while I hope to answer those questions correctly (laughs). I also write fight reports for the website itself after each match on the night and while I put a bit of color in there, it's just mostly straight reporting. Doing all of that can be tough and you have to be disciplined, but it works quite well as there's usually a break between each fight so I have enough time to right the fight reports."

"I think the whole FW Radio concept is a great idea and no other promoter in the world that we know of is doing it. Eventually we'd like to also have a radio show on a non-fight night, with the public ringing and emailing in questions. We do interview many special guests including all the top fighters here in Britain such as Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe, Michael Gomez, Scott Harrison, Takaloo along with so many others and it's a real treat for the fans to be able to do that. I think the interactive power of the Internet is underused right now and in regards to boxing, people are mainly trying to reproduce on the web what you might see in newspapers."

"In Britain you have boxing related video and audio content but what's so great about the web is the interactivity that you can't get with newspapers and to a lesser extent, television. To that end, we're asking the fans to email questions, which we'll put onto audio, and we'll then use those fan questions to conduct interviews with the biggest names in the sport. People can actually have their own input and ideas going into the website. We intend to run a site for everyone and we want people to see that it's as much their own site as it is Sports Network's".

Perhaps the most popular special guest of all on FW Radio is the one and only Frank Maloney. As the man who managed Lennox Lewis to the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world, Maloney has a remarkable grasp on all aspects of the fight game, "I enjoy doing the radio show as I love to talk to people on a professional yet relaxed basis," he said. "I get to have a joke with them as we get a lot of interactive correspondence by way of emails. The whole concept of FW Radio is great because it's opening up British boxing to the American market and they're getting to hear of good fighters that they wouldn't otherwise get the chance to do so. It's not like the BBC, it can be a lot more light hearted, relaxed and fun to work on."

"What we do on the radio, we do for the fan's benefit and we cover every fight on the cards. It's fantastic and I take my hat off to the guys that thought it up. The other night on a Fight Skool card from York Hall in London we had as guests all of the young fighters who fought on the bill, a couple of trainers and even the referees. We get people that you might not normally get as guests because we're not restricted by any time limitations and we cover the whole show. We have enough time that people can get their views across and it's really great for the fans as they may only otherwise hear of a person in the business' name and never get to hear them speak or hear their viewpoints. It's a new market, it's keeping boxing out there in the forefront and it can only benefit the sport. My fellow broadcasters and I on FW Radio would love to get a feel about what the American public likes and we'd really love to hear what they think about what we're doing. We think they'll very much like what we have to offer."

Coincidentally, the American public will actually get a big opportunity this weekend to experience the best of the British fight scene, as Sports Network has partnered with a top website to air one of the promotional company's star attractions. "We're doing a live Internet broadcast of Ricky Hatton's fight against Carlos Vilches this weekend, exclusively to North America" said Ed Simons. "They'll pick up Sky TV's live feed and present that to their members. I think we at www.frankwarren.com are pretty much breaking new ground in what we're doing with FW Radio and other things. We're reaching an every widening audience with each broadcast and we reckon that we can get up to 150,000 people listening to a live fight broadcast over the Internet."

Frank Warren realizes that Sports Network's continuing success involves not only taking steps into a brave new world but also being well prepared to take advantage of what he may find there. "Right now what were doing with the website and the radio quite simply is the future," he said. "Also what's happening here in the UK is that mobile phone companies have developed a new format, which I've seen, that will prove very useful to us. In probably eighteen months time you'll be able to plug your mobile phone into the back of a television, download fights and then watch them on that TV. We're looking into all aspects of that, as to how we can maximize the exposure of our shows and generate more income."

"Boxing is a tough sport and for most fighters, it's a short career. If we can maximize our profits, generating more income and more importantly keep the sport going through use of new technological advances, it will benefit the boxers, the fans and Sports Network, and so we will continue investigating and working with these breakthroughs. We're keeping all our options open in order to take advantage of what may be happening in the future. Anything we can do to bring boxing to more people, through means such as FW Radio, that's the direction we're heading in. When the potential of broadband really does start to become realized, perhaps we'll start broadcasting on that as well. In any case, we've got to keep developing new areas and working with the new technologies as they become available."

To hear FW Radio, log onto www.frankwarren.tv

Article posted on 10.06.2004



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