Sensationalism both hurts and helps boxing

by Paul Strauss: Society's thirst for the outrageous and bizarre is very evident. Just check out the popularity of the grocery store tabloids and reality tv. There's something inherent in a large segment of society, which attracts them to the "crazies" and the "irreverent". Witness "Iron" Mike Tyson's one man show that commands ticket prices starting at $70 plus dollars! What about the ad nauseam coverage of the Kardashian clan, which is most famous for a sex tape and 71 (or is it 72) day marriage!

Some of boxing's most popular characters have also, not surprisingly, been some of its most colorful and controversial: Jack "The Galveston Giant" Johnson, Jack "The Manassa Mauler" Dempsey, Stanley "The Michigan Assassin" Ketchel, Harry "The Pittsburgh Windmill" Greb, Two Ton Tony Galento, Max "The Clown" Baer, Muhamad "The Grestest" Ali, Hector "Macho" Camacho, to name a few.

Currently, we have Floyd "Money" Mayweather, Jr. and his entourage. They are in the boxing news so much that they rival the preposterous amount of coverage devoted to the Kardashians. In a sense, the Mayweathers (and assoc.) have their own reality show, because some in the boxing media seem to salivate over every little bit of unrestrained flapdoodle made by these notorious characters.

Boxing keeps plugging along, despite reports of its demise. In truth, boxing has proven to have the ability to survive all kinds of threats to its existence, due in part to this unquenchable appetite for scandals, whether it be such things as bad decisions, questionable injuries, outrageous live styles and wild accusations.

Boxing has more than its share of ambulance chasers, who are eager to latch onto latest charges, counter charges and tommyrot made by the more than slightly shaded in-crowd of boxing. True or false, this bunkum fuels the fire, and keeps the flame of boxing from being smudged out. It is also a big reason no one has ever succeeded in mounting any kind of significant reform in boxing. There's too much at stake for those who make a living off of this bottomless appetite for the bizarre and outrageous. They know what an honest, orderly and regulated sport would mean ....boring! It wouldn't sell newspapers, as the old saying goes.

Consequently, there are numerous exhortations made, many of which are sincere, all of which are akin to official sounding utterances. But, what is left after the boxing media, promoters, managers, commissions, and casino owners get done with it in truth resembles more of a substance that splats on the ground close to the bull's hind feet.

Boxing continues to have its own stage, peppered with every kind of character imaginable, so incongruous of one another the only common denominator is they all want to remain so. The outrageous and bizarre aren't stifled. Rather, they are encouraged and prodded to spout and act out. Sell, sell, sell can be heard in the background if you care to listen. Interviews are in abundance, outrages bellowed, shocking behavior condemned but rewarded, and then the whole process is repeated, sometimes with the same characters and other times with a new cast of characters but similar script. Even without "The Greatest" or "Iron Mike", this humbuggery sells and keeps boxing on the Broadway Stage of sport. Nothing changes if nothing changes! Boxing fans needed worry. Yes, it is insanity, but a lucrative disorder. You don't believe it? Check out Forbes' latest list of the wealthiest athletes.

Article posted on 20.06.2012

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