Matthew Christie: Full Profile
BA (Hons) Media and Communication, 2005
Excellence in Sport or the Arts
Matthew Christie has managed to build a successful media career on the back of his lifelong passion for, and interest in, boxing. Having graduated with First Class Honours in Media and Communication, specialising in TV production, he got his break with specialist TV production company KOTV before becoming one of the world's most respected writers on the subject for Boxing News magazine and various national newspapers.
Despite his enthusiasm for the sport, Matt had found himself side-tracked into an unfulfilling retail career after his A levels until, at the age of 24, he decided to make changes in his life and follow his dream of working in a boxing-related role in the media.
Birmingham born and bred, the University of Central England (now Birmingham City University) was an obvious choice – aided by the strong reputation and flexibility offered by its media courses.
He said: "Boxing has been a life-long passion of mine even as a child – whenever it was on the TV, I would sit transfixed, and when I was about eight I had some gift vouchers and the first thing I bought was a boxing encyclopaedia. As I got older, I started to read more of the magazines and writing some articles of my own, and had a few things published on websites and in local newspapers.
"I had fallen into a retail career which wasn't really for me, and reached the point where I wondered what I was doing there. I looked at various media courses but I knew that UCE, as it then was, had a good reputation and I liked that the course gave you a grounding in all aspects of the media, so you could spend your first year trying out different areas such as radio, TV and journalism before specialising – even digital media, which was fairly new then, was included.
"It was a very positive experience for me – there was a bit of trepidation on my part beforehand as I was concerned I would stand out because of my age, but it wasn't like that at all. There were people on my course from all kinds of ages and backgrounds, and the teaching was excellent from day one – all of the staff always made time for us and if you were clear on what your ambition was, they would help you to come up with a plan of action to get there."
After graduating, Matt bombarded various sports broadcasters and producers, asking for a job as a boxing specialist, until he was finally invited to an interview at KOTV. He was offered a job as a runner at KOTV's base in Southampton and never looked back, becoming a producer within two years. He produced several boxing documentaries that have been shown all over the world, tried his hand at commentary and featured as an analyst on several radio stations. However, he found that what he enjoyed most of all was coming up with the scripts, re-igniting a passion for writing that went back almost as far as his boxing obsession.
"It was a tough period as I had made a decision that I was determined to work in something boxing-related and was sending off job applications on almost a daily basis, but it's a very specialised area and there aren't many openings. I was working in a call centre, waiting and hoping, and as time went by I was starting to think I would have to reconsider. However, I finally got the break I needed and it went from there.
"KOTV was a fairly small operation, mostly concerned with boxing programmes, although it did also produce a football show and the World's Strongest Man coverage for Channel 5. Because of that, I was able to get involved in all sorts of things and always volunteered to help out where I could. It was a wonderful few years, and I quickly worked my way up to producer."
While he remained happy at KOTV, Matt sensed that he would like to write more. Having read Boxing News since he was eight-years-old, he contacted the editor who told him that new opportunities were exceptionally rare, but were advertised in the magazine when they did come up. In August 2009, his dream job as a reporter came up and, after a long selection process, he beat 400 other candidates to secure the role. Within weeks he was living his dream, sitting ringside at boxing matches all over the country, meeting his heroes, and enjoying text conversations with Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe.
"It was a difficult decision to leave KOTV but writing was what I really wanted to do and I had already built up some experience on a freelance basis. About 400 people applied for the job so it was a wonderful feeling to get the phone call telling me I had got it – it was actually quite emotional because it was a life-long ambition and it made all the work I had put in and the difficult times I'd had along the way worthwhile.
"Although I was moving from TV to print, the line between them was becoming increasingly blurred and I think my previous experience was one of the things that helped me get the job as they were looking at how to develop their website with more video and interactive content. That development is still continuing but the site is going from strength to strength and visitors are up around 500 per cent over the past year. I think increasingly in our industry, you can't say you will be just a journalist or just a broadcaster – you need to be prepared to work across all aspects of the media."
During 2011 Matt went to Bethnal Green, Glasgow, Hamburg, Helsinki and Las Vegas to write about boxing, meeting more and more of his idols along the way. In September 2011, he was promoted to senior writer and by the end of the year he was web editor on the new Boxing News website. He was approached by The Guardian and The Observer to write for them, which he did, and continues to do, on a freelance basis.
In January 2012 he won the Newsquest Outstanding Content Contribution of the Year Award from the magazine's parent company and in March of that year Matt discovered he had made the six-person shortlist for the Sports Journalism Society Internet Sportswriter of the Year Award. At the awards ceremony in May, TV chat show legend Michael Parkinson presented him with a 'Highly Commended' award for his category that included journalists from The Times, The Daily Mail and the BBC. In May, he appeared on popular Sky Sports boxing show Ringside as a studio guest, and during the London 2012 Olympics, Matt was used by the BBC as an on-screen boxing analyst for the final day of the Games.
Matt now presents the weekly internet show BNTV, and hosts the weekly Boxing News podcast The Opening Bell, which has over 10,000 listeners, as Boxing News adapts to the rigours of an ever-changing media landscape, while still writing for the magazine and website every day.
"My current role primarily involves looking after the website, but in my spare time I am continuing to write for other outlets, and I've also had two books published recently – one about Muhammad Ali and one on the history of Grand Prix racing. Every day I'm very grateful that I'm doing what I love as a career and my passion will always be writing but unless you're, say, the features editor of a national newspaper, that will generally only be one aspect of your job. Ultimately, that may be where I end up going – I'm very content working in boxing on a day-to-day basis at the moment, but I would like to stretch myself with a wider range of feature writing one day, and it could be that I'll need to sacrifice some of the boxing as a result.
"I was stunned, but very proud, to be chosen as an Alumni of the Year and it really made me feel everything had all been worth it. I remember when I went back to University, it wasn't an easy decision but it turned out to be the best thing I ever did. Whenever I speak to family or friends now, who are perhaps unsure of what to do in the future, I always advise them to get a solid education – decide what field you are interested in and then go for it. That's what I did and I can't thank the University enough for everything they did for me."