(Photo credit: Esther Lin/Showtime) Even rough edged boxing fans have heard or been told the Good Lord once said something like, “Faith as small as a mustard seen can move mountains.” If the Lord said it, it must be true, right? Life should be so simple for boxing fans. The sad truth is most of us feel unworthy for that to be true in our lives. Tough guys feel the statement is just a fairy tale thought up by a bible thumper or religious zealot. No doubt many critically describe such talk as “way out there” b.s. Those hard heads don’t feel religious beliefs of any kind have a place in boxing, or any sport for that matter. For example, “Tebowing” was ridiculed by many (and still is), and now the former N.Y. Jet is in search of another team he hopes will have faith in him as a winning pro QB.
It’s safe to say boxing fans generally chose to believe in something more tangible such as muscle, speed and toughness. It helps too if the fighter comes from Philly, Chi Town or the Big Apple. Pugs from those places get higher marks, because of their survival skills. It makes them betting favorites Also, If your last name is Garcia, or Mayweather, you’re definitely an odds on favorite. Chances are their pacifiers were shaped like boxing gloves.
So, why do fighters like Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero and Andre S.O.G. Ward, and Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao risk being so open about their beliefs? They are neither intimidated; nor are they embarrassed by their outward displays of faith. Why are they willing do so? Do they feel they’re better than the rest of the boxing community? Do they pray for victory? Do they pray for strength to vanquish their opponents? Do they pray for wealth and adoring fans? Since all three have enjoyed tremendous success, does that prove they have some type of spiritual superiority over the rest of us sots?
The fact is we don’t know? Each of us chooses what and who to believe, and no matter how hard someone (those three for example) tries to win us over, chances are it’s not going to work. So, why do these guys even bother? We’re like the character of Terry Malloy in the great movie “On the Waterfront”, when he uttered the telling question about Father Barry. Terry asked, “What’s his racket”? In his tough world, everyone has a racket, an ulterior motive. Is that true with any of these three?
Hmmmm, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. apparently thinks so. He has chosen to call Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero a hypocrite because of Guerrero’s outward display of faith. In this case, it’s almost like Little Money is saying, “Well, you started it with that David and Goliath crap, so now it’s my turn. It’s like Little Money is saying, “I’m no Philistine Champion”. The difference is Little Money chose to get personal right from the get go.
Let’s get back to the real issue. Why do individuals like Ward, Pacman, and Guerrero risk mockery from the toughest fans of any sport? It takes a lot of guts (faith), even before they step into the ring. It makes one appreciate their belief in that “mustard seed stuff”.
Fans have to be careful though, as the master at clowning, Max Baer, put the Star of David” on his trunks in hopes of gaining Jewish fans. Talk about a gimmick. Ray Arcel dispelled that bit of crockery about Maxie really being Jewish when asked. He quickly replied in the negative, explaining, “I’ve seen him in the shower.”
Do we have similar attempts by these three? Again, no one but them really knows about what’s in their heart or the sincerity of their beliefs, but we can look at the examples they set. Pretty good I’d say. Even if they’ve faltered in the past, they continually strive to be what they say and how they act. Hell, even Mike Tyson is talking about a god lately and enjoying forgiveness for the all the crap he committed in his life. He needs that forgiveness, because even though he might not be fighting in the squared circle anymore, he’s still struggling to put big paying rumps in the upholstered seats of the theaters for his one man show..
So, what’s the verdict? Do we resent such behavior? It’s obvious some say, “yes”! But, the truth is there are a lot of fans who appreciate strong beliefs, noble character, even if they are religious, as long as that’s coupled with a good jab and decent right hand. Consequently, Little Money should maybe get off the “hypocrite” stuff and concentrate on not acting like a Philistine, which the dictionary tells us is “…… a person who is guided by materialism and usually disdainful of intellectual or artistic values.”