Nickname needed for rising boxing star Parker

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 10:41 07/08/2014
Joseph Parker
Getty Images

NEEDS A NAME: Joseph Parker may be a good boxer, but he needs a nickname to be a great one.

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Joseph Parker is rapidly making a name for himself in the heavyweight boxing ranks, but maybe it's time he got a new name.

You know, one of those monikers that sums up the person and the athlete, reflects their personality and abilities, and sounds good when being drawled out at high velocity by the ring announcer.

It's all part of the game of professional boxing.

Slugged the "American Invasion", Kiwi boxers Parker and Robbie Berridge were due to fight Sunday in Bethlehem, near Philadelphia in the US.

Berridge would enter the ring to the bellow of his appropriate nickname "The Butcher", but Parker would be announced as ... well, just exactly who he is - Joseph Parker.

Two years into a professional career that's netted him nine consecutive wins and earned him an exciting No 15 ranking with the WBO, no one has been able to attach a tag to Parker.

Not even Duco Promotions, his livewire backers known for some left-field moves in the sporting domain, especially the circus elements that came with boxing, have been reluctant to brand Parker.

A few people have had a go, but nothing has stuck. When he fought a low-rent bout against fellow Kiwi Brice Ritani-Coe in Irvine, California, just over a year ago, the ring announcer bellowed Joseph "Wild Child" Parker.

It didn't stick, thank goodness. Parker didn't like it, and nor should he.

Having no nickname was no reflection on the polite 22-year-old who has let his fast hands do the talking.

Others have loosely tried "Explosive Joseph", even "Jurassic Park-er", "Joe The Jury", and Joseph "The Power" Parker.

It got raised in a quiet chat after a visit to the grave of heavyweight legend Smokin' Joe Frazier.

There's no way Parker wants the Smokin' tag given the association it had with Frazier, one of the true greats of the sport.

"Smokin'" needs to be retired, something like the American franchises do with the shirt numbers of their greatest athletes who were no longer active.

Living up to the pressures of "Smokin" would be just too much.

But what about "Gentleman Joe". It wasn't entirely unique. There was a Gentleman Jim Corbett, an American who won the world heavyweight title way back in 1894 and was credited with changing prizefighting from a brawl into an art form, even labelled the father of modern boxing because of his scientific approach in a far more rudimentary era.

Jim, by all accounts, was a real nice guy. And they didn't come much nicer in New Zealand sport than Parker, the ever-obliging heavyweight with a soft touch to life outside the ring.

Consider this. A day after knocking out Brian Minto in Auckland last month, Parker rang up the veteran American and took him out to lunch just to show there were no hard feelings.

What's more, he presented Minto with a greenstone pendant as a long-serving reminder of their rivalry and Minto's growing appreciation of New Zealand.

That's a touch of class. That's a gentlemanly act - that's Gentleman Joe.

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And just quietly, I've got a feeling he likes the tag.

Will it stick? Time will tell.

What nickname do you like for Joseph Parker? Share your ideas in comments below.

- Stuff

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