How Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline became the national anthem of boxing

“A few years ago I got caught up in that excitement and couldn't resist trying to encourage the fans to react with even more gusto!”

We all know the words to this one…

The importance of satisfying a crowd is essential to live sport, especially boxing.

It is not only watching two people beat lumps out of each other and witnessing blood spilling onto the canvas.

It is also about having fun, being entertained and nursing a severe hangover the next day.

When fans purchase a ticket to a Matchroom event in particular, pre-pandemic, they want to let their hair down, have fun and most importantly, belt their heart out to a Neil Diamond classic - Sweet Caroline (good times never felt so good, so good, so good).

It gets played before every main event by Matchroom and you normally get legendary MC Michael Buffer throwing his hands in the air or doing something daft in an attempt to orchestrate the crowd singing.

Speaking about the buzz he gets from it, Buffer said: "A few years ago I got caught up in that excitement and couldn't resist trying to encourage the fans to react with even more gusto!"

Michael Buffer has become part of the fabric when it comes to Sweet Caroline being played
Michael Buffer has become part of the fabric when it comes to Sweet Caroline being played

Depending on the quality of the card itself, the tune can sometimes be chief support to the main event.

The song has been covered all over the world by musicians such as Frank Sinatra and Robbie Williams as well as a karaoke bar near you. The question is - how has it become the ultimate anthem for the sport?

In the MLB, it rings a bell for the Mets and Red Sox while the Panthers have played it before every home game.

Premier League sides including Arsenal and Aston Villa have even got involved. According to Sky Sports' Adam Smith, Brian Peters was the man who got the ball rolling.

"The song has always been very special to me. It was one of my dad Paddy's favourites," Brian said.

"He was a cattle dealer, he used to take me round the country and I remember sitting in the back seat, with smoke billowing at me and Sweet Caroline blaring away.

"Neil Diamond was playing at The Point in Dublin and I went along to the rehearsals and met him. I asked why, with all the money in the world, tour and stay in hotels for weeks on end? He said: 'It's what I do.'

"What a great answer. The Neil Diamond I met off the stage was like an old man, but I couldn't believe the transformation when he performed. When he was on stage, he was so pumped up he could have gone 12 rounds with AJ. Changed like The Incredible Hulk!

"He called out a lady in one of the seats and asked which song she wanted and she said Sweet Caroline," Brian continued.

"Even though he had already played it, he did it again and was so pleased to. I remembered that interaction with the fans, and when I started putting my shows on I wanted some of that. Get the crowds going. Give them a prize.

"So I would give away a signed glove, things like that. I would try and bring a few celebs, give the fans a great experience and then we thought of music…and boom!"

Neil Diamond performs Sweet Caroline on NBC's 'Today' at Rockefeller Plaza on October 20, 2014 in New York City/picture alliance
Neil Diamond performs Sweet Caroline on NBC's 'Today' at Rockefeller Plaza on October 20, 2014 in New York City/picture alliance

Former fighter-turned-analyst and MTK Global co-founder Matthew Macklin also backed claims of hearing Sweet Caroline for the first time at Peters' show.

"The first time I heard music being played between fights was at a Brian Peters' show in Dublin.

"Bernard Dunne was the main event and like always, there was a gap in the action while the TV pundits on RTE gave their predictions from the studio.

"At ringside, the atmosphere was really building towards the main event with literally the whole arena singing along to Sweet Caroline! I remember thinking, they should do this at the shows in England - the place was absolutely rocking!"

Planet Sport can speak on behalf of all boxing fans by saying we cannot wait to hear a sold out arena belting their heart out to it.

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