Why There MUST be a World-Wide Boxing Commission

01.06.06 - By Andrew Teece: I have read several articles lately regarding fighters of days gone by who have pushed themselves to the limit and past it. Two very recent articles, one by Ted Sares about Bobby Chacon, and another by Craig Parrish, about when is the time for a boxer to call it a day, produced both heated and thought-provoking debate as to who should make the decision of when a pugilist should retire. Many ideas and opinions were put forward. The thing I took particularly from the articles I mentioned was that there is a glaring need for a world-wide boxing commission to look out for the welfare of the men who bring so much joy and excitement to our lives..

I was not brought up in a family who follows the fight game, but since I was young I had a fascination for these men who put themselves in danger each and every time they step through the ropes. It has only been in the last ten to fifteen years though that I have been a dedicated follower. I donít know the moment that it happened, but I was drawn to it like a moth to the flame, there was nothing I could do to stop it, looking back it seems an inevitability that I would end up a boxing tragic.

The sheer brutality, the beauty, the pure violence excited every sense in my body. So many times over the years have I watched a fight and sat, unable to look away, as two men pounded each other into oblivion until one was left standing. I see boxing as the most basic of sports Ė man against man, one on one Ė downright primal. I love it.

But to see greats such as Ali, Chacon, Barkley, Holyfield and an unending list of others reduced to their current state is both heart wrenching for me to see as a boxing fan, but also does nothing to help our beloved sport into the mainstream, nor help our cause against the many detractors who claim our sweet science to be a barbaric sport that should be outlawed. When I look at a fighter such as Arturo Gatti, who has scarcely been in a boring fight, I wonder, when will he have fought once too many and go over the precipice? I think the damage that is suffered by so many is a build up of many years of boxing, but quite often there is an identifiable fight, even a round, that represents the point of no return. Gatti is one of my personal favourites, and I certainly donít want to see him end up slurring and scarcely able to hold a conversation, even if it means I get to see him fight one less time. He has brought enough heart in mouth excitement to me to be happy with the memories.

Should boxing continue to suffer numerous deaths in the ring and mind altering injuries to fighters late in their careers, there will be more calls for boxing to be banned. Should this happen, boxing will once again go underground, and we will be attending bare-knuckle bouts with little or no medical supervision, the fighters fighting for small purses and facing even more serious injury.

The only way I see that we can protect our fighters is for a world-wide commission to be formed to utilise the technology that is at our fingertips. I believe this commission should hold medical records from when the boxer starts his career. We should be performing CT and MRI scans before and after fights. Yes, this will cost, but we all know there is plenty to go around, we pay the ridiculous PPV prices. This commission should review the brain patterns and look for changes in brain waves. The technology is there, we need to employ it for the future of our heroes and for the future of our sport. When these warriors are on the downhill slide, their perception is not clear. Their warrior heart, and quite often money, bring them back for more, even when their bodies and minds are past their best.

The commission I am suggesting should also withhold money from each purse to form pensions for retired fighters. There should be a general pension fund, and also the fighters should have their own fund, so that the more successful the boxer, the greater the pension they receive upon retirement. This pension must be received as an annual pension, no lump sum payouts, it has been proven time and time again that fighters are generally not great money managers, but if they are, they still have the chance to grow wealth with the remaining money they receive from the bouts they participate in.

This is a simplified solution to the problem, but I only see one issue in implementing it. And it angers me no end. Why you ask has there been no commission started? It is the Don Kings and the Duvas of the boxing world who know that this world-wide commission I am suggesting will result in them having less control, and inevitably, earning less money. If the Kings and the Duvas had pressed for a commission, it would long be in place, but they know it is not in their best interests. They are only interested in putting their crowd-pleasing fighters in the ring as many times as they possibly can, to eke out every last cent from their charges, with little or no regard for their wellbeing.

These warriors who step into the ring sometimes need to have the decision (of when to call it quits) taken out of their hands. Either pride or money can bring these lion hearted specimens back into the ring too many times, and I can see clearly how a world-wide boxing commission can protect our boxers from physical and financial ruin, even if a 40 fight veteran cannot.

Article posted on 01.06.2006

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