Hall of fame trainer/manager/analyst Gil Clancy was fond of telling his fighters between rounds, “If he hits you low, hit him back low”. Watching Friday Night Fights caused me to remember Clancy’s sage advice. I won’t go into which fighter was doing what, but generally speaking all too often fighters are allowed to carry on with dirty tactics.
One of the worst and most damaging tactics is use of the elbow(s). Getting an elbow in the face (or anywhere else) is not pleasant. When it happens over and over again, it can be downright demoralizing. Even if it doesn’t always hurt, it often involves a push, knocking a fighter off stride or unfairly opening him up for a damaging punch.
A story I once heard had Max Baer asking Jack Dempsey how to deal with such tactics. Jack quickly said, “Here’s how you deal with it kid”, as he positioned Max with left out in the troublesome fashion. Soon the great one had Max yelping out in pain.” Max yelped out in pain, “I can’t do that Jack, its illegal”, Jack simply said, “Yeh, but they’ll warn you the first time!” I’ll leave it to readers’ imagination as to just what move Jack demonstrated.
The point is a fighter, who is continually being fouled with no cautioning from the referee, has to take matters into his own hands. Watching a fighter do nothing, and steadily get his butt whupped is frustrating. It’s like watching a lamb being led to slaughter. You want someone in his corner to yell at him shouting “Wake Up!” Then they should bitch to the referee between too with “Don’t you see that!”.
I think all too often referees are afraid of getting criticized. They’ve heard ringside analysts say, “The best referees are the ones you don’t even know are there.” In other words, the best referees are the ones who let fighters fight. That’s good advice if things are equal. There’s nothing worse than the referee who won’t let fighters work on the inside and is continually jumping in to break up the action. However, all too often referees will let one-sided violations go unchecked. Too often the fighter on the receiving end is reluctant to retaliate. He doesn’t want to be the one who gets penalized. That’s stinkin thinkin, repeat offenders need to get a little of their own medicine. There are umpteen ways of doing it, and fouled fighters are just plain stupid if they don’t employ a few to even out things. Readers certainly can come up with more than a few.
The boxing ring is no place for pacifists and biblical advice about “turning the other cheek”. Fighters who do so don’t last very long in the most brutal of sports. Another thing, fighters shouldn’t turn to the referee for help. That’s dangerous. Remember what happened to Jack Sharkey in his fight against Dempsey. When he turned toward the referee to complain about a low blow(s), he got knocked cold with a picture perfect left hook Sometimes, as Gil Clancy advised, a fighter has to take matters into his own hands. Pull a little Harry Greb on your opponent, and see if his dirty tactics don’t stop. Who knows you might even start winning the dam fight!