Boxing Gets a Shot on the Jaw

18.10.05 – By Aaron King: A Jesuit magazine closely associated with the Vatican will publish an article called “The Immorality of Professional Boxing” in an upcoming edition. They call the sport a “legalized form of attempted murder.” They compared boxing to the gladiator battles of ancient Rome, and called individual fighters “machine(s) to make money.” The magazine, Civilta Cattolica (or Catholic Civilization), often echoes the views of the Vatican.

And it’s 100 percent hogwash.

Riccardo De Girolami, the secretary-general of the Italian Boxing Federation, said, “They don’t really know the sport.” That much is easily inferred from what is said in the article. Comparing boxing to attempted murder and gladiatorial contests? Gladiators were forced into these battles. They fought for their lives. Every boxer that steps into the ring knowingly puts his health on the line, and never will you hear a fighter say that he wants to literally take the life of his opponent. This much is obvious. The Vatican needs to lighten up, if this is actually their view. A boxer is a boxer because it is his calling. It is his passion – it’s in his blood. It’s what drives he, or she, for that matter, out of bed and into the gym, onto the road. A boxer fights for a championship, not for the chance to kill another person. How can the Catholic Civilization make such a misguided proclamation?

The edition, which is set to come out on Saturday, mentions a multitude of the prizefighters killed over the past century, also citing the recent death of Leavander Johnson. It seems that this is the motive for the article.

Leavander Johnson walked into his fight with Jesus Chavez in Las Vegas as the IBF lightweight champion of the world. He was living a dream. He had just achieved what every fighter strives to achieve. It was his choice to step into the ring, and he made plenty of money doing it. So, I beg this magazine, save the comments about how boxing is immoral and how its champions are mindless robots making money for businessmen. They’re making money for their selves, as well, and they love doing it.

It’s unfortunate that bad things happen, but that’s the risk each fighter takes. Diego Corrales recently said, “I will die in the ring if I have to.” Hardly the words of an unwilling slave forced to fight to the death for the entertainment of thousands. He clearly understands that it is his decision to put his life on the line. Hard to draw a similarity to an ancient Roman gladiator.

The Jesuit magazine is entitled to its own opinions. However, this is a case in which they were clearly off base. Attempted murder? Let’s not be sensational. The attention to boxing and the recent string of deaths and injuries is appreciated, but such statements don’t do anything to help the game.

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