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The Ring Magazine: Profile in Hypocrisy

By Jason Peck - One would think that a magazine which claims to own the only legitimate belt in boxing would change its tone after being sold to a promoter. After all, promoter influence is one of the reasons why the WBC and IBF are illegitimate – according to the Ring Magazine, of course..

Think about it: What if Don King bought the IBF? What if the WBA were purchased by Bob Arum? That would end the issue – both belts would get the savaging that the Ring somehow avoids. But the magazine that never stops pretending to take the high road is, in fact, now legally owned by a Golden Boy Promotions, a promoter.

Ring-heads will no doubt come up with some excuse, but from where I stand, there is none. Before, I was merely irritated by the Ring for its constant self-promotion. But the fact that the Ring ignores its own buy-out is downright infuriating. As of writing this, I’ve read yet another Nigel Collins column where he toots his magazine’s horn. I’ve had enough.

Try swallowing this nugget of hypocrisy:

The October issue of Ring featured their “Moments that changed boxing” column. As it happens so often, what starts as an objective piece turns to an editorial promoting for the Ring belt. In discussing the chaos created by the alphabet titles, the Ring featured a picture of Don King and WBC president Jose Sulaiman standing together. The two are friends, and Ring writers have long insinuated that their friendship has allowed King to subvert the WBC from behind the scenes. Therefore, any action taken by the WBC is questionable. THEREFORE, try the Ring belt instead.

Hold on…So WBC is illegitimate because of accusations that the Mexican-based body is INDIRECTLY influenced by Don King. But the Ring Magazine being OVERTLY run by Golden Boy is somehow perfectly fine. In fact, it’s unthinkable to imagine otherwise.

Why? Because the fans shouldn’t think about it. Hence, unthinkable.

A common defense I hear is De La Hoya’s claim that he’ll keep the magazine separate from his other business dealings, a talking point that carries as much water as a pair of pantyhose. Used properly, De La Hoya has just purchased one hell of a PR tool. Whether De La Hoya personally oversees the magazine or not is irrelevant. The fact is, the editors still write knowing full well that he owns it. There’s no way in hell his ownership isn’t going to make a difference.

When pressed, fans might admit that the Ring “has it flaws.” Don’t make me laugh. Spelling errors are “flaws”. This is an “issue,” and one that jeopardizes the Ring’s credibility.

The buy-out affects the Ring journalism in much more subtle ways, however. It casts the articles in doubt, regardless of the reporting that's gone into them. Is Oscar’s upcoming bout against Manny Pacquiao really a super-fight worth mentioning? Or is it the sham most boxing fans thought it was all along?

We could waste the day arguing over nit-picks, but over-analyzing the magazine to make my case is beside the point. In fact, I imagine that most comments to my story will do that, rather that actually face the Real Issue. Namely, because the Real Issue has no excuse.

The Real Issue that no Ring fan is going to address is this: The Ring is now guilty of exactly the same crime it accuses others of, but STILL acts like it stands on a higher pedestal, and STILL demands the same loyalty. And the fans who side by the Ring come hell or high water have to give really good reasons WHY everything’s still all right.

I still can’t go more than five minutes without hearing some twit harp about the Ring rankings like they were carved into stone tablets. The Ring long promoted itself as a force of truth against the sanctioning bodies, and that legacy created a kind of Bushian logic. Either you’re with the Ring, or you’re with the forces that destroy the sport. So therefore, by speaking out against the Ring, you’re destroying boxing too.

But the damnedest thing – the Ring is one such force.

I also question how an American-based publication could “save” a sport that’s practiced in more countries than magazine has editions. Furthermore, I would argue that it’s far from being the best-written boxing magazine. I would especially love to hear from British fans, who have access to superior magazines written by superior writers. I’d read them myself, if they didn’t cost my $12 apiece at Border’s.

If there’s anything that pisses me off, it’s a double standard. Why should the magazine be exempt from the same criticisms it loads on every other sanctioning body? If you want to be a reformer, fine. But a reformer must rise above everyone else. I don’t see the Ring doing that.

Article posted on 23.10.2008



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