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‘Sweet Caroline’ boxing take over began at Dublin fight nights

‘Where it began…..’ Well we are about to tell you.

Over the last number of years Neil Diamond’s classic has transformed from a tune to get your Dad singing at a wedding to the go to warm up song at a boxing event.

In fact in recent times the sing along classic has become a fight night anthem, the new chief support to the main event.

So big and seemingly so fresh is it’s impact across British and even American shows, that there is genuine excitement surrounding a tune that has transformed fight night.

That ‘new discovery’ feel often bemuses the Dublin fight fan, those who attended Bernard Dunne’s greatest nights tend to scoff as British promoters and pundits talk about the top of your lungs classic in the same excited tone as David Attenborough would the discovery of a new species.

Brian Peters has used to the song to great effect over a decade ago. Indeed on some of Bernard Dunne’s biggest nights Sweet Caroline got a better rendition around the Point Theatre than when Neil Diamond visited the famous venue himself.

It’s passionate, partisan and lets party! It’s a unique sporting experience that Dublin hasn’t experienced in far too long, but on Irish fight fans could experience come Carl Frampton fight nights.

However, the Dublin can take some pride in the fact it’s fans along with Dunne, Peters and Mike Goodhall inspired the birth of anthem.

While the British are reveling in the song and what it brings to the table at least they are not claiming it as their own.

Head of Boxing at Sky, Adam Smith, revealed the origins of the song as an integral part of the fight night experience in a piece this week.

The main at a satellite station that always backed boxing spoke to Brian Peters about the song,

“The song has always been very special to me. It was one of my dad Paddy’s favourites. He was a cattle dealer, he used to take me round the country and I remember sitting in the back seat, with smoke billowing at me and Sweet Caroline blaring away,” Brian began when speaking to SKY.

“Neil Diamond was playing at The Point in Dublin and I went along to the rehearsals and met him. I asked why, with all the money in the world, tour and stay in hotels for weeks on end? He said: ‘It’s what I do.’

“What a great answer. The Neil Diamond I met off the stage was like an old man, but I couldn’t believe the transformation when he performed. When he was on stage, he was so pumped up he could have gone 12 rounds with AJ. Changed like The Incredible Hulk!

“He called out a lady in one of the seats and asked which song she wanted and she said Sweet Caroline,” Brian continued.

“Even though he had already played it, he did it again and was so pleased to. I remembered that interaction with the fans, and when I started putting my shows on I wanted some of that. Get the crowds going. Give them a prize. So I would give away a signed glove, things like that. I would try and bring a few celebs, give the fans a great experience and then we thought of music…and boom!

“I always allow myself a wry smile, just in the background when it is being sung by thousands in England. I message those who thought I was crazy way back when at home.”

MC for those much missed Dublin nights, Mike Goodhall recalls, “I was MCing for Irish promoter Brian Peters in about 2005. The time of Bernard Dunne and Andy Lee – and we wanted some music to fill in the gaps around the swing bouts.

“We tried Sweet Caroline and it just went down so well with the fans, we then gave it a go on the Frank Warren shows and it was just amazing for the build-up,” Mike continued.

“It’s extended further than boxing – Proms in the Park, Radio One Roadshows, you name it. But boxing is where it’s most familiar – Eddie Hearn loves it and so do the fans – who really react and let themselves go. Neil Diamond even knows himself how popular it has become in UK boxing. It’s amazing that it is 15 years now since those days in Ireland,” Mike concluded.

Hopefully the Dublin and Irish fight fan will be singing the song again sometime soon rather than watching others sing it in venues elsewhere.

Jonny Stapleton

Irish-boxing.com contributor for 15 years and editor for the past decade. Have been covering boxing for over 16 years and writing about sports for a living for over 20 years. Former Assistant Sports editor for the Gazette News Paper Group and former Tallaght Voice Sports Editor. Have had work published in publications around the world when working as a freelance journalist. Also co-founder of Junior Sports Media and Leinster Rugby PRO of the Year winner. email: editoririshboxing@gmail.com