Before Dana White turned the Ultimate Fighting Championship into an international powerhouse as the company's president/promoter, he was a boxing trainer in Boston.
He returns to those roots in producing “The Fighters,” which will debut on The Discovery Channel on Thursday night at 9. Eight episodes are scheduled.
“If you’ve ever been around the boxing world, you know there’s a ton of crazy characters,” White said. “To look at the inside world of boxing, it’s crazy, and we started with Boston. I know Boston, it’s where I came from, what I know.”
Boxing club owner Peter Welch, whom White used to work alongside, works in the first episode to start a local tournament of South Boston’s best fighters.
“Boxing’s what saved me,” Welch says in the episode, noting that it’s a vanishing sport. “I want to make sure boxing’s here for these kids to get them on the right path.”
Another gym owner agrees. “If boxing’s not here, there’s too many pitfalls for these kids.”
That’s a statement that resonates nationally, and White knows it, so he has visions of taking the show ultimately to places like Los Angeles, Detroit and Philadelphia.
White’s UFC reality television series, “The Ultimate Fighter,” in which young, talented mixed martial arts fighters are brought together to train, live and fight one another with the promise of a UFC contract to the winner is different than this.
“The Fighters” is more gritty, different than other boxing reality shows such as “The Contender.”
“I know Peter Welch very well, he’s a staple, so we started with him,” White said. “We delved
into that scene around him, the personalities around him. I knew it’d be good TV.”
Like luring one of the fighters out of living in his car, another from substance abuse.
“When I started the UFC, I considered all the things that boxing did wrong and all the things boxing did right,” White said in comparing “The Fighters” to other boxing reality shows. “As I looked at those shows, I wanted to do it completely different. For us to get another boxing reality show on TV is huge, and it’s on Discovery. It’s a competition, but that’s not the character of this show. The character is.”
During one segment, a trainer notes boxing is for the "slow, the fat … the kid who wasn’t
picked to play in the other sports.”
Said White: “There’s [stuff] you wouldn’t believe in boxing, that’s what we’re looking for in this
one. We’ll find out if I was right or wrong.
“The way I look at it, this is me giving back to the sport I love. If it wasn’t for boxing, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today.”
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