Written by guest blogger Ronnie McCluskey
If I were to ask you who the Watson twins are, you’d probably answer that question with a question – the question being “Who the fuck are the Watson twins?” The truth is, I don’t really know. Neither does anyone else.
A bit of background is necessary here. I am a boxing fan. Call me bloodthirsty, but few things give me more pleasure than watching two men have a sanctioned punch-up. The sport has been vilified since time immemorial, and has endured sporadic damage to its reputation courtesy of cartoonish villains like Don King (famously parodied in Rocky V – aye, the shit one – by the character of George “Washington” Duke) and infamous masticator Mike Tyson, but for me its attraction has never waned. Boxing is a combustible composite of artistry and savagery, a serious sport where life and limb are wagered in the pursuit of glory. It is an art in which slippery, defensive wizards attempt to outfox ferocious whirling dervishes hell-bent on destruction; a contest where power, speed and talent count for little if you don’t have the heart to lay it all on the line.
Brain v Brawn
Of course, I don’t delude myself into extolling boxing as the last truly ‘noble’ sport. While it is no longer populated by cigar-chomping gangsters who fix fights and wield power over governing bodies, it is hardly squeaky-clean. For every humble young prizefighter lacing up the gloves to better his life, there is doubtless a thuggish pretender trying his luck because he’s banged out a few rivals on the street.
The entertaining thing is that either can succeed.
Boxing takes no account of motive; what drives its practitioners to compete is completely irrelevant. In Scotland, the contrast couldn’t be more evident. Ricky Burns is a humble, respectful and soft-spoken young man who, despite possessing a world title, remains grounded by working in a sports shop on Saturdays. Scott Harrison is a snarling, embittered ex-champ who has served time in a Spanish slammer for assaulting a police officer, and boasts a rap sheet longer than War and Peace. The pair are expected to contest Burns’ championship next year, providing Harrison isn’t jailed in the interim; he faces a Spanish judge next month, accused of assaulting patrons at a seedy Malaga brothel.
I digress. This blog isn’t about Burns or Harrison – it isn’t even about boxing. It’s about the Watson twins. So back to the original question: Who the fuck are they?
Elementary, my dear
The Watson twins are a ubiquitous presence in the world of boxing. They don’t seem to have an official role in the sport itself, but invariably appear at every major promotion, either accompanying a boxer to the ring or – even more commonly – rearing their heads in the ring itself during the emcee’s introductions. Oh, and the pair aren’t twins incidentally – they’re a couple of years apart.
If you haven’t witnessed a boxing match in a while, you may be unfamiliar with the pre-fight rituals. No longer do combatants enter the ring accompanied solely by their coaches and cut-men. Nowadays even jobbing pugilists duck through the ropes surrounded by a bustling battery of consorts – friends, family, managers, promoters, sponsors – and it seems the better the fighter, the bigger the entourage. Floyd Mayweather, the sport’s flagship star, was flanked for his last fight by a confounding cadre of celebs including Triple H, Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber. In the modern era, ring-walks, as they are known, are every bit as entertaining as the fights themselves. Chris Eubank once entered an arena astride a Harley Davidson Shovelhead, while ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed liked to cruise into the ring on a magic carpet just for the lulz.
The Watson twins don’t bother with such frivolities. They are content simply to smile. And why shouldn’t they? The sons of wealthy boxing manager Sam Watson, Daddy takes them to work every time a big fight is staged, where the bros get to mingle with the stars, soak up the atmosphere and, well, just generally hang out.
Who cares if the Watsons are only there because of nepotism? Who cares if they don’t fulfil a specific role? If trundling in a fighter’s wake and wearing the biggest shit-eating grin since Jack Nicholson as the Joker is a job, each Watson is employed as a fully-certified motherfucker.
The speciality of the Watsons is lingering. They linger like bosses. If lingering is an art, the pair have mastered it in the East, amidst the crumbling colonnades of ancient tombs and under the auspices of wizened shadow warriors. They linger in the background as the fighters loosen up in the ring during introductions. Smiling assassins, the bros are particularly adept at positioning themselves directly behind a fighter when he is being interviewed after a contest. Shameless attention whores, they never miss an opportunity to get their grinning mugs on television.
It didn’t take long for boxing fans to notice the incessant lurking. The Watson twins had become ubiquitous fixtures at every significant bout, so the fans did what comes naturally: they flocked to a forum and bitched about it. One thread, on BoxingScene, was entitled Who is this guy who is always in somebody’s corner? Judging by the replies, this would appear to be a question long-pondered by the global boxing fraternity.
“He’s always in the background. I can’t stand him or his brother’s faces anymore,” complained Cazadores. “They just want airtime,” opined Primera, before adding, “honestly they look annoying as hell and I want to punch them.” Defututus left no doubt as to where he stood on the debate, chiming in: “None of us should recognize these Watson cunts, yet we do, because they are always present in our peripherals.”
The discussion raged. Markfrombrookly (who presumably ran out of characters when selecting his username) was even more damning, opining: “It’s getting annoying seeing those slanty eyed bastards all the time. They look like they smoked a few blunts before they got up in the ring!”
But hatred was not the only emotion. Paranoia gripped a couple of posters, who feared the Watson twins would pullulate; “Apparently they are bringing a new kid with them. He wears a racoon like hat and uses eyeglasses,” forewarned jtcs1981, before one terrified poster, BatmanRobin (yes, really), switched into bold to convey the gravity of the situation: “You guys thought that the watson twins are annoying? they have an addition annoying cunt with them. anyone notice that hiphop wannabe vietnamese guy with silver tooth with them?”
On the forums, shit got real.
One writer has attempted to clear the swathe of fog that enshrouds the pair. In The Watson Brothers, Explained, however, Michael Woods’ article begat yet more questions without really getting to the heart of the matter. What do the Watsons do? asked Woods. “Everything behind the scenes,” purred Marcus. “We make sure the fighter is taken care of.” It’s difficult to conceive a more ambiguous answer. While managers manage, promoters promote, and trainers train the fighters, it seems the Watson twins do…everything. Promoting, managing, training, possibly fetching Ben & Jerry’s when the fighter gets hungry and clearing his browsing history when he’s horny. There are no limits to the gifts the Watson twins bestow.
Ultimately, internet fame is measured in one thing and one thing only: you ain’t nobody until you have your own Twitter parody account. In this respect, the Watsons meet all memeable criteria, boasting an unofficial Twitter account that spits out shoops of them photo-bombing historical events. When it comes to gatecrashing, John Terry ain’t got shit on these guys.
An image search for “Watson twins boxing” unearths not genuine images of the pair at sporting events, but doctored pics created by fans mocking their endless crusade for attention. In real life, zealots beg to have their photos taken with the twins, inserting a single caveat: the twins must be seen to be photo-bombing the shot; lingering; lurking and grinning.
Every day, Google is inundated by boxing fans asking: Who are the Watson twins? What do they do? What is their purpose? And why are they present at every fight? While the majority of fans would appear to hate their guts, they do have defenders, who point out that jealousy accounts for much of the vitriol directed towards them. What boxing fan wouldn’t want to attend every major showpiece, lingering like a boss and taking in the action from ringside? Whatever your view, the Watson twins could care less. They WILL be at the next big fight, catching the vapours of the fighter they’ve latched onto and they WILL be grinning like Cheshire cats.
Boxers gonna box, haters gonna hate and Watsons gonna do what Watsons do best: acting like world champion attention whores.
It’s a slutty job, but someone’s gotta do it.