“God is our guide! from field, from wave, From plough, from anvil, and from loom; We come, our country’s rights to save, And speak a tyrant faction’s doom: We raise the watch-word liberty; We will, we will, we will be free!” wrote George Loveless in 1834, ahead of his transportation to Australia as one of the six Tolpuddle Martyrs who’d sworn an oath to each other not to work for less than 10 shillings a week. Now Steve Bunce and attentive side-kick Andy Kerr aren’t likely to have plaques placed on Plymouth docks or die in workhouses, but the loss of their one hour show in the wake of Setanta’s expiration has created a seemingly comparable level of public outcry and angst.

As the last major boxing bill of the season comes around and the death of Setanta becomes old news, it is more important than ever to lend the campaign for their return, somewhere, anywhere, your support.

The year or so that the show ran was a golden period for British boxing, never had the sport been afforded such an open and informed window to its characters, stories and murky corners – Steve Bunce provided the energy and contacts, with Andy Kerr his likable student offering a partial lid to Steve’s boundless knowledge and opinion. Guests rallied around the show from Don King to Kevin Mitchell, from servicemen to Ola Afolabi, it was priceless viewing.

In its absence, the show’s die-hard supporters have come together, demonstrated unity against the tyranny of the economics which suffocated Setanta and through modern day vehicles like Facebook, Twitter and the www.BringBackBunce.net website have shown a cooperative spirit in the face of the monopoly Sky Sports is now likely to hold on live boxing coverage. A channel that charges Sky Sports subscribers an extra £45 to watch Amir Khan 1) get knocked out in a round 2) beat a man who broke his ankle in the opening round and 3) fight a 35 year old Featherweight for long enough to avoid the no-contest result the veteran deserved.

It worries the boxing fraternity.

And it worries Steve Bunce, it worries Steve Bunce because he cares. He cares about the sport, which is why the Setanta editorial policy of discussing ALL fighters and promotions regardless of the network which planned to show them was so key to the show’s popularity. In the world of Sky Sports, if you don’t fight on Sky Sports, you don’t exist.

The Steve Bunce show is an important piece of programming. It needs to be salvaged from the wreckage and planted into a TV schedule somewhere, whether it be ITV4, Channel5 or the new ESPN channel. To help maintain the momentum of the campaign as the story of Setanta’s demise cools, log on to www.bringbackbunce.net to complete the petition, read support messages from hundreds of boxing figures and discover other viral methods of boosting the case for the freedom of the Setanta boxing martyrs to continue their tireless work on our behalf.

As another historic icon of the trade union movement would say “Power to the people”.

David Payne

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