Bondi brawler: James Packer, 46, fighter
James Packer has fluctuated through the weight divisions. This week he defeated his long-time friend, rival and fellow heavyweight media mogul David Gyngell in a unanimous points decision by grappling submission.
The Saturday Paper You’ve had a big fight this week – a win – but you’ve also taken a lot of criticism, particularly of your technique. Some of it has been really tough. I mean, unkind. The bout was called “unedifying”.
James Packer Mr Xenophon compared me to Mugabe.
TSP And how do you take that, as an athlete?
JP One of my friends said at least he didn’t compare you to Gaddafi.
TSP Boxing is a family thing. Your father got you into it.
JP I believe that my father was fairly strict but I don’t remember ever getting a belting I didn’t deserve and I can remember a few occasions I didn’t get one and I did deserve them, so I don’t believe he was ever unfair with me.
TSP He still defines you as a fighter?
JP I’m not in control. Dad’s calling the shots.
TSP What are your thoughts as you go into a fight like this? What goes through your head?
JP Now we’re going to show all those doubters that they were wrong. And we’re going to be right on this and we’re going to be vindicated.
TSP But after a win like that, where does it leave you emotionally? How do you celebrate?
JP I’m an ambitious person. I mean, if I did that … I would self-destruct, in the sense that the decadence would be too strong an attraction for me. Whether that be in the form of gambling, fast cars, alcohol, drugs, whatever it happens to be … I think the lure of that lifestyle would be too strong.
TSP At one point you had Gyngell in a headlock and it looked as if you were whispering something in his ear. What was that?
JP I don’t want to go into it, other than to say that my father put me into his shoes in every sense. I’ve got no restrictions on me.
TSP How did you rate your opponent?
JP He has shown me how hard you can push people.
TSP You’ve said you won’t fight again, but your own casinos must be begging for a rematch.
JP We have 24-hour on-site counselling at Crown. We are the only casino in the world to have done this, and we did this for good karma reasons.
TSP But there must be international interest, like there was with your father?
JP I don’t think I’ll strike fear into the hearts of Vegas casinos or bookmakers the way he did…
TSP So you are serious about a break?
JP I prefer to be sitting on the beach, but I can’t. I want to be a billionaire.
TSP In a career like yours, there must be regrets.
JP There’s no doubt that One.Tel was a terrible, um, was a terrible, ah, investment and something that I regret greatly.
TSP What about people you’ve fought but wish you hadn’t?
JP The last thing you can do if you fight with the government is win.
TSP James, it’s been an absolute pleasure.
JP In my mind, it’s not personal.
James Packer did not participate in this interview. These quotes are his.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 10, 2014 as "Bondi brawler". Subscribe here.