J4tp: We are so pleased that you have become Just4theplanets third “ambassador” John – it means a lot to us.
JHS: I am pleased to do this – after all what could be more important than highlighting issues around the environment and helping our planet.
J4tp: Our thoughts entirely
JHS: I mean I was reading just the other day that that pollution in China is responsible for 450,000 cancer deaths every year. How awful.
j4tp: That’s right John – we did a series of articles about pollution in its various forms – it is a very serious issue.
J4tp: You did most of your fighting in the 1970’s and of course some of us remember that incredible night in Mexico when you became World Welterweight Champion. In your opinion, what is the difference in environmental awareness from then until now?
JHS: Well there was little or no awareness back then. I think there may have been some vague awareness of a thing called the ozone layer. Now people are much more environmentally aware over all sorts of issues. And with the work of people like you – hopefully more people will become even more aware.
JHS: Well I won the World Championship in the Bullring in Mexico City! Can you imagine that today! I am totally against bullfighting – but I was young back then and that’s where the promoters had organized the fight.
I still remember even further back when I competed in the Olympic Games in the very same city (I am the only man to have won his world title in the same city as he competed in the Olympics) – we were taken to a bullfight. We -that is the whole British Olympic Team walked out en mass – because we couldn’t bear watching this blood sport.
Believe it or not six years later – I got changed – before the big fight – next door to where they kept the bulls! This would never happen nowadays – and rightly so.
J4tp: that’s right John – today there is a greater awareness of bio diversity and animal rights.
JHS: Yes – I read your great interview with fellow ambassador (and extremely talented) Stevie Riks. He is a big animal lover isn’t he – and I agree with everything he said.
J4tp: Have you noticed any other changes in the boxing world?
JHS: Well now the gyms are much cleaner. The whole environment around the sport is cleaner. In the old days – a bloody nose was just part of the game – you fought on. Today it is treated straight away – with plastic gloves. Also – of course there is no smoking. Believe it or not I can remember trainers and even boxers smoking in the gym!
J4tp: Wow things have certainly changed!
J4tp: With the Olympics coming to London (and of course you are an ex Olympian) – do you have any thoughts about environmental issues and the Games?
JHS: I am aware that there has been an effort to make the Games “green” – which has got to be a good thing. I know South Africa was criticised for not giving green issues any priority in its preparations for the world cup. Perhaps as a poorer country they couldn’t afford the costs of going green.
J4tp: perhaps – but here at just4theplanet we are trying to raise an awareness that it makes economic sense – in the long run – to think and go green on these projects. I mean our biggest sport by far is football. What do you think the football authorities can do John?
JHS: Well clearly they didn’t do enough in South Africa. I suppose the international (FIFA) and national (FA) authorities must start pressuring owners of clubs to “think green”. Construction and improvement of stadiums is a multi billion pound business. Contract should go to those companies who have a concern for the environment at the heart of their business strategy.
J4tp: On a personal note – given your inter action with athletes – do you think there has been more interest in environmental issues among our sportsmen and women?
JHS: Oh yes – I think this is growing. My friend David Bedford – as Director of the London Marathon – is always looking at the environmental impact of that race. I think Kelly Holmes and others have promoted the environmental agenda. Long may it continue and grow.
J4tp: How else do you think we can push forward the green agenda in sports?
JHS: Well sports retail is a gigantic industry. I do know that JJB Sports have made big commitments in this area. Indeed the Board of JJB have teamed up with the Carbon Trust and are committed to a Carbon Management Programme to improve energy management. They have also made a concerted effort at recycling materials and a commitment to reduce landfill waste. Hopefully other retailers will follow suit.
J4tp: Yes and we would encourage our readers to look at any companies green record before making a purchase. If everyone did this it would be an enormous catalyst for change.
J4tp: Finally John. The world of boxing and the world of the environment may seem worlds apart – what are your thoughts?
JHS: No. The environment – by definition enters all areas of our lives. We have been discussing sport – but we could be discussing anything – and there would be an environmental angle. It is not simply an issue – it is the issue. I was reading that the planet has already lost 20% of its rainforests – the lungs of our planet. This is murder – literally of the earth – and it’s got to stop. As an ambassador for just4theplanet perhaps I can do my little bit to fight for our planet. It’s a fight that is even more important than a world title fight.
J4tp. Thank you champ