Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What I Love About Boxing.

How can I explain what boxing means to me? Why do I love boxing and boxers so much? To some people it is just two Neanderthals, slugging it out. To others it is a game of strategy, one man out thinking and outfighting another, using his brain to win the fight. And still to others it is just another sport to be viewed and cheered (or jeered) and bet on. And it is all those things, but to me, and to real fight fans, it is like an unfolding drama, an opera being played, each round representing another act. If you look closely enough you will see the human drama that is being played out in the ring.

Where, but in the ring is a man truly naked to the world, every virtue and every character flaw visible for all the world to see. Where but in boxing can a man be on top of the world one day (think Mike Tyson, Buster Douglas, Roberto Duran) and hit rock bottom the very next? And where but in boxing can someone fall so low, and fight his way back to a championship and respect, as Duran did. It took the entire 1980's for Duran, to comeback from the "No Mas" fight with Sugar Ray Leonard; losing a decision to Wilfredo Benitez, beating Davey Moore for the Junior Middleweight title, fighting a much bigger Marvin Hagler, the Middleweight Champion, to a standstill (Duran was a natural lightweight) in a great losing effort, and getting knocked out by Tommy Hearns, in possibly Hearns greatest knockout ever, and then in 1989, nearing forty years of age, fought and beat Iran Barkley to win the Middleweight title.

Buster Douglas, a mediocre fighter at best, having fought the fight of his life, knocking out Mike Tyson and winning the Heavyweight title, in what may be the greatest upset of any sport, lost the heavyweight title, in humiliating fashion, in his very first defense, against Evander Holyfield. Holyfield himself was thought to be washed up and easy prey for Mike Tyson a few years later, but rose to the occasion, in their classic good guy vs. bad guy battles in the 1990's, beating and humiliating Tyson, so bad, that Tyson snapped in their second fight and bit Evander in the ear, not once, but twice, thereby getting disqualified, which I believe was his intention.

How easy it is, to call a fighter a bum, when he loses a fight, especially when he loses in what appears to be in embarrassing fashion, until you step back and look at the big picture. Even the lowly "tomato can", a club fighter with more losses than wins, used just for the purpose of building up the record of an up and coming fighter, devoid of any great skills, speed and a decent punch, deserves our respect, when you think about what heart, what courage, what mental stamina it takes, to step into the ring against the likes of Mike Tyson, Muhommed Ali, George Foreman, Oscar De La Hoya or any number of great fighters, knowing full well your whole purpose for the evening is to get beat up, maybe knocked out, possibly worse. Still they make that lonely walk from the dressing room, down the aisle and into the ring, hoping beyond hope that "Maybe, just maybe, this is my lucky night". And when it is all over, and though the world may call him a bum, still he stands tall, because he knows what he has done and what it took to do it. The late Jerry Quarry, may he rest in peace, said it best "No coward ever stepped into the ring". He should know, there were none braver.

1 comment:

lawrence said...

nice writing randyman... glad to see you in the blogosphere.

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