Boxing

Defending Boxing - a Counterpunch Aimed at The Sport’s Haters

22.01.06 - By James Slater: I consider the sport of boxing to be unique in its ability to thrill and reward its fans. I also feel there is so much more depth to the sport than many people choose, or are able, to recognise. Some see boxing as a mindless and brutal spectacle with two men simply attempting to knock each other senseless. These people are missing a whole lot! Yes, boxing is a tough sport and, at times, fights can be brutal, but at the same time the talent on display can be a thing of beauty. The fight game is still referred to as “The sweet science”, and the object in the ring is to hit and not be hit. Boxers are capable of putting on a mesmerising and complex ballet of subtle movement to avoid oncoming blows and this is what I would point out were anyone to question my use of the word beautiful.

Boxing can also be likened to physical chess, where the mind of a boxer is tested to its limits in terms of thinking ahead and anticipating his opponent’s next move. Surely then, this sport is not one for the mindless stereotypes that its critics would have us believe. Superbly gifted maestros of the manly art of self defence such as; Jack Johnson, Benny Leonard, Willie Pep and Pernell Whitaker, to name only a few of the pugilists who appeared almost impossible to lay a glove on when at their peak, force anyone not suffering from being biased or ignorant to admit that the skill level involved in boxing far outweighs the one of brutality. Clearly boxing is not a sport for dummies. It is a sport where nothing other than the sharpest of minds will succeed. The discipline and sacrifice that is also necessary in becoming a fine professional fighter is another factor deserving of great respect.

I hope by now I have given a good argument to disagree with the wrongly held view by some that boxing only serves a purpose to mindless thugs and savages. But along with the talent that fighters possess, we must also admire the way boxing provides a way out for so many who would not have had a chance were it not available. Boxing does far more positive than negative. A life of crime has been avoided by so many youngsters, who, without the discipline and guidance provided to them through trained aggression may well have been tempted to stray down the wrong path. This is understood by all people connected to the sport. It’s a crying shame the “Let’s ban boxing” brigade cannot see how mistaken their contempt for the sport is. If they could see this then they would be aware of just how unforgivable a wrong it would be to take it away, and along with it what might have been THEIR only chance in life had they not been born into such fortunate circumstances, where their time is seemingly taxed by nothing more than complaining.

I want to say I truly love the sport of boxing. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be writing this article. I love it with a genuine passion and have done for years now. I’m sure, I KNOW, I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. Why? Because boxing is a sport like no other and boxers are athletes like no other. It is the toughest sport to participate in and I believe the toughest to be a fan of; you really have to love it. What do I mean? Well, to me its simple really. Boxing requires hard work and loyalty to be a fan (as you read on you will see that I wasn’t suffering from being biased as I wrote this article, I also acknowledge the bad points that boxing, as with all other sports, has. ) and I mean a real fan; someone who will sit through all the prelim bouts, who will watch all the boxing they can and who will read everything on the sport they can. We are guys who know the difference between a standing eight count and a mandatory eight count! Hard work? Yeah, what other sport has all the bullshit attached to it that boxing has? You know what I mean; the bad decisions, the politics-the match ups that never get made, the governing bodies (the alphabet soup gang), the corruption and the incompetents, e.g. commentators that seem to know nothing about what they’re watching. Commentators and “experts” who you simply wonder how they ever got their (privileged) jobs in the first place.

No other sport has all the above and many more ills that I could list, but I wont waffle on any more, you get my point. Boxing has a lot of excess baggage it has to contend with. And we fans have to contend with it too ; it’s the hardest sport to like, to be loyal to, therefore it MUST be the most rewarding. Why else would we stay with it? I liken it to a tough marriage, it takes hard work, effort and love to make it work, but when it does it’s simply the greatest! No other sport is as rewarding, no other sport is as personal either; it’s just man against man in a squared circle. Period.There’s no team support, there’s no backup, there’s nowhere to hide. They’re on their own in the ring, and we fans understand and appreciate this. We respect the raw courage needed from the fighters because we see it up close - ringside! It’s almost like we’re in there, we’re with our boxer, it’s personal! You really get your payback with this great sport, boxers give one hundred percent in that ring.

There is nothing quite like a big world title fight, the heart really does start pounding. Boxing can require endurance to simply observe. It can be exhausting, yet at the end you’re invigorated because you have been involved; it was raw, it was powerful, it was real!

Yes, the men and women who list boxing as nothing more than a barbaric and brutal sport are missing a whole lot. I almost feel sorry for them! Almost.

Article posted on 22.01.2006



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