Boxing: From Here to Eternity

By Joe Masterleo on November 17, 2013
Boxing: From Here to Eternity
Why, boxing is just one of many risky endeavors that hastens one’s journey homeward.

“There is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that one fate comes to all; also the hearts of men are full of evil…”

“There is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that one fate comes to all; also the hearts of men are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the grave.”—Ecclesiastes 9:3

In a world rife with paradox such opposites as good and evil, winning and losing, poverty and riches, life and death, wisdom and foolishness mingle and co-mingle on the human scene. And like all things mysterious and contrary, they must ultimately exist for some high and holy purpose. And what might that grand purpose be, you ask? Why, none other than to begin the business of culling-out the more savory side of such polarities as one would separate, say, wheat from chaff, sheep from goats, men from boys, or, of all things, heaven from hell—separating the best and highest in things from the worst and lowest in them for the purpose of gathering the former into a better place. What better place? Eternity, as it is otherwise known, or its equivalent. Anyplace but here, that is, and anywhere but in a boxing ring. In that way, all that is irregular in this world will eventually come to be rectified in the next. Eternity, the place where all accounts are settled and all irregularities at last put in order. And where the Judge’s scorecard is never suspect. You can laugh, but it says here that he who laughs first didn’t really understand the bigger picture. Call that guy the dope in the rope-a-dope.

Therefore, I do have a peace about boxing, particularly at its insufferable worst. And you can toss all the extreme sports and every brutish human endeavor into the mix. I finally do get it. There’s a way out of all this madness. Boxing IS a metaphor for things present and things to come—perhaps THE most brutish of all metaphors for same, save for war. And if the squared-circle is a microcosm of the world’s paradoxes, then much like the world at large it can be sheer hell, especially when you’re badly beaten, as in, to a pulp.

Not a convert yet? That’s OK. You’ll come around. Ask the family of the late Michael Norgrove, boxing’s most recent fatality. Or ask heavyweight Magomed Abdusalamov, who narrowly escaped death upon suffering a stroke while in a coma following his punishing debacle at the hands of Mike Perez. That is, if Abdusalamov retains his speech function.  (And make that “Irish” Mike Perez, an oxymoron if there ever was one.)

While such recent tragedies have again reopened old divides over the life safety of the sport, it has not done so with me. Neither will any such future outcomes resulting from extreme-risk behaviors injurious to human life, health and wholeness. Wholeness? Yeah, as in wholesome, be it far from the dark-side of boxing.

Indeed, each time a boxer steps into the ring, there is a serious risk that he/she may lose their life or sustain a life-changing brain injury. No need to reiterate that fact. Not for me. Not ever again. As death lingers around every corner, life itself is risky, varying only by degrees. 

Unlike boxing, most sports have scoreboards that contestants may know where they stand in the scheme of things. After all, be it in the ring or on the field, one needs a scoreboard, a context, something that lends direction and meaning to one’s locale on the journey. In the soul-gathering business, body and brain are short-lived by design. What’s more, they’re destined for disposability, eventually re-converting their material energies back into the pure invisible form from which they derived, merely departing the field of time en-route to their destination. There, chaff is separated from wheat, life from death, winning from losing, wisdom from foolishness, pain from pleasure and all opposites become reconciled. You can look it up. And boxing? Why, boxing is just one of many risky endeavors that hastens one’s journey homeward. Call it but one instance where the eternal seizes opportunity to convert lemons into lemonade. Welcome to the World Championship of Paradox, a place where ‘dead on arrival’ is grotesque if only from our point of view. Kevorkianesque, you say? Cynical? Perhaps. Go ahead, laugh. I’ve been converted. Was blind, but now I see. Don King, eat your heart out.   

Michael Norgrove will tell you as much, as will Jimmy Doyle, Benny (Kid) Paret, Duk Koo Kim and a host of others going all the way back to bare-knuckled champion George Stevenson in 1741—if we could but speak to them. They know that their former citizenship was in a hellish world of mixed blessings, where life and death, by design, shake hands daily, only to square-off—win, lose or draw. 

Of a certainty they will attest to such things, memory intact, every last one. For no one is punch-drunk there, nor are they counted down, or out. Having once been disposed of, such gloomy things have been discarded forever, like the musty gloves and robes of a bygone era. Left for us to ponder their skeletal remains in this puzzling squared-circle of life. 

Go ahead, laugh. I’m a believer. Was blind, but now I see. 

How about you?

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Read More Blogs
Discuss this in our forums

Related Articles


This is a place to express and/or debate your boxing views. It is not a place to offend anyone. If we feel comments are offensive, the post will be deleted and continuing offenders will be blocked from the site. Please keep it clean and civil! We want to have fun. We want some salty language and good-natured exchanges. But let's keep our punches above the belt...
  1. Ted 08:53am, 11/20/2013

    Joe,  I always like to get an answer.

  2. Frank 11:04am, 11/19/2013

    Don’t give up, don’t ever give up!

  3. Ted 01:45pm, 11/18/2013

    This is a powerful piece Joe. Thanks. But what EXACTLY are you saying about yourself? Are you through with it or are you staying with it?

  4. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 02:48pm, 11/17/2013

    Joe Masterleo-Like to get your input on this weighty matter as well….why do you think Alec Baldwin is such a homophobe? I have my own theory and it goes like this….he’s married to a very beautiful, very sultry/ sexy, and much younger woman and he has this stubby little dick….so he scapegoats gays because he is aware of studies that have been done that indicate that on average gays have bigger schlongs than straight males (has to do with something that occurs inutero during gestation)....what say you?.

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 12:55pm, 11/17/2013

    Joe Masterleo-I like the way you think and it’s very clear to me that you invested some very serious thought into this matter….but now what?

  6. Ezra 12:18pm, 11/17/2013


Leave a comment