Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Prizefighting Today . . .

By Rick Farris

I really don't care much for boxing today.
I love what it once was, what I experienced in my era, meeting greats from past eras.
I used feel excited about upcoming events, and we had such events every week.

Every couple months somebody would hold at major card in L.A.
Usually undisputed world championships were at at stake, or true "elimination" bouts.
Names such as Napoles, Lopez, Olivares, Quarry, Liston, Ramos, Rojas, Griffith, Chacon, etc. would be featured.
In between these mega-cards promoted by Eaton or Parnassus, were weekly bouts. These were as good as, often better, than the big ones.

Today, we can't attend boxing in L.A. as often or convenient as in years gone by.
Indian Reservations, the boxing venues of the new millenium, are located in the desert here in Southern Cal.
Occasionally, Oscar will throw a big event into the Staples Center.
His last featured his new star, a kid who didn't realize that boxers occasionally get hit.
When I fought, this was required knowledge.

In old school boxing, you were taught to defend yourself, and to accept the consequences when you couldn't.
Today, the fighters are much smarter, they just quit.
They seem not to realize that they have entered into a public contest where people are paying to see the participants get hurt.
The goal isn't a tochdown, or home run, it's a knockout. I'm no Rhodes Scholar, but I understood right off that this was a pain game.
The idea is to inflict as much of it on the other guy, and at the same time avoid allowing him to do the same.
It's not about breaking records, it's about breaking another man's spirit, to dominate. I guess it's one of those primitive things, whatever?

This past weekend I didn't expect to see anything great, maybe a little action. As expected, nothing was great and there was little action.
I watched a rough Armenian, who would try to intimidate opponents by telling the world he "hated" them.
A tougher African kid didn't care if he was hated, but he was smart enough to care who got hit, and made sure the Armenian took his share.
I thought to myself, "well, by today's standards the guys are fighting." It was a World Bantamweight title fight.

I looked at the champ and challenger and tried to compare them with the 118 pounders from my era.
We had Jofre, Harada, Olivares, Pimentel, Medel, Zarate, Castillo, Zamora, Martinez, Herrera, Anaya, etc.
I then thought about a guy from the previous era, Manuel Ortiz.

Am I just getting old, or has the quality of talent really diminsished?
Occasinally we'll see a "throw back". I think Manny Pac is a guy who "reminds" of us a better era. He'd be hard to beat at any time.
However, Pac would would not look so unbeatable a few years back, he'd be a good one, but just one of dozens that pass thru L.A. at any given time.
And he'd be fighting much more often against better fighters.

If I live long enough, there will be a time when I lose all interest in watching contemporary boxing.
When I no longer have my friends here to remind me of how special it was, then I'll just limit my involvent to teaching kids.
I won't teach boxers, I'll teach kids how to keep themselves safe, and fit.
I won't run a class, I'll just continue to workout, and I'll run into a kid who is being picked on.
He may be too small, or fat, or too white or too black, just a kid trying to deal with his pride, charactor and fear.
Sometimes they just need someone to believe in them, and then they might believe in themselves. I understand this.

There are many things I can teach about fighting. The best thing I can teach is how to avoid fighting. That was a hard lesson for me.

For now the WBHOF is of interest. I see a lot of old friends and meet a lot of idols from days gone by.
I find myself smiling more when I see my old friends, and meet some new ones, boxing people, the REAL boxing people.
In due course, today's lot will be retiring, and a few years later they'll be up for induction honors.
This is when I shall walk away. It will no longer mean anything to me.

-Rick Farris


Frank "kiki" Baltazar said...


Great article that Rick penned

Randy De La O said...

Frank, this is one great piece of writing by Rick.

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