Burn Down the Boxing Hall of Fame

By Paul Magno on July 4, 2017
Burn Down the Boxing Hall of Fame
Heroes in the past tense demand nothing but the energy it takes to believe and pretend.

The IBHOF is a shrine to all things boxing is supposed to be. It’s also a testament to the boxing fan’s thirst for denial and self-indulgence…

No sport is as buried in nostalgia and hopeless romanticism as boxing. And, by “buried,” I mean up to its nostrils, arms pinned at its side under the weight, bringing about slow suffocation. 

The Boxing Hall of Fame is a symptom of boxing’s emotional hang-ups.

Every year “hardcore” fans pack their things and head out to the International Boxing Hall of Fame induction festivities in Canastota, New York for an immersive experience IN the world of boxing and, ironically, an escape FROM the real world of boxing.

A wonderful place filled with plaque, belts, and mementos of boxing’s greatest heroes, the IBHOF is a shrine to all things boxing is supposed to be. It’s also a testament to the boxing fan’s thirst for denial and self-indulgence.

For way too many boxing fans, clutching desperately at the past is a way to avoid dealing with the present—a present, by the way, that is a total buzzkill.

In the here and now, boxing requires smart fans to temper their raging macho fantasies with the realities of a changing world and shifting dynamic in the sport. New views on proper treatment of athletes and race in sports meld with the ever-present concerns over corruption, collusion, and mass incompetence. Fans also bump face to face with a failing business model as well as a media that has entirely failed a media’s purpose.

Heroes in the past tense never disappoint, though. They demand nothing but the energy it takes to believe and the willingness to pretend that, once upon a time, it was ONLY about noble warriors doing noble things for the sheer sake of nobility.

Too many boxing fans only really love the sport in the past tense. And no matter how vehemently the “die-hards” deny that statement, there’s a long laundry list of awfulness in the sport that affirms its veracity. Boxing came to be this way from neglect and it stays this way from willful ignorance. It’s hard for fans to claim a passionate, undying love of something that they’ve let fester and rot.

Until they can learn to love in both past and present tenses, boxing fans will always be the love-struck ninth grader failing Algebra because he’s daydreaming about the girl from Social Studies.

Other sports have their Halls of Fame and there really isn’t much of an issue. Baseball, for example, has every right to their Cooperstown shrine. Baseball isn’t an unregulated toilet of a cesspool that accepts its fans and fighters being cheated and, all too regularly, allows for its own athletes to be killed and crippled.

Boxing fans shouldn’t feel entitled to a place that acknowledges the very best until they’re at least a little bit willing to address the very worst. One doesn’t get the right to take victory laps when battles are being lost every day. It’s not fair to force fans into being advocates and activists, but boxing is not like other sports. There’s no real media in boxing to force the sport’s pressing issues to the forefront. Boxing’s media is almost entirely made up of groupies, paid shills, useful idiots, and weepy-eyed warrior poets. In the absence of a brave, informed, and aggressive media, the consumer has to become the agent of change.

Unfortunately, the same fans craving a sausage and pepper sandwich with Jake LaMotta on Hall of Fame induction weekend are most certainly not the people petitioning congress to enforce the Muhammad Ali Act or authoring articles that spotlight the sport’s myriad of dark and dangerous issues. Boxing needs fewer historians collecting vintage Ring Magazines for display in their man caves and more fed-up, angry opponents of the status quo. Realistically, if the sport gets any sort of push towards reform, it’ll have to come from its fans.

Yep, boxing’s future may depend on the energies of those guys in jorts and Hagler vs. Hearns replica souvenir t-shirts taking lunchtime selfies with Gerry Cooney. The question, though, is whether the self-proclaimed “hardcore” “die-hards” have the energy or even the will to be anything other than nostalgic consumers.

Okay, maybe we don’t HAVE to burn down the IBHOF. Consider that a bit of clickbait bluster for this new age of internet readership. Maybe we can just board it up and put all the belts and plaques in storage until we get things in order. It’s a small sacrifice to make for the sake of something we all LOVE, right?

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  1. Jeremiah Gabriel 02:12pm, 07/06/2017

    MANNY PACQUIAO was the Greatest Fighter Of All Time

  2. George Louis Otto 04:34am, 07/06/2017

    Good article.  Because this sport has no internal or external sense or means of regulation or predictability, many individuals (the fighters, the fans, referees, judges, trainers, the media, some promoters, and some managers) have suffered at the hands of a few.  Other professional sports benefited greatly when the majority of its significant participants decided to create a business model which made their sport better for all concerned and invested in its well-being.  Did a few individuals suffer when that happened ?  Yes, but the group as a whole, as well as the industry itself, improved.  Three components must exist in a genuine sporting enterprise to make it important and legitimate.  Ethical behavior on the part of the key participants, access to be a part of the business itself and to observe the events put forth, and a willingness to live in the present.  Professional boxing, for all its positive virtues, does not promote adhere to all of these.  A road map or guideline as to what to do ?  I recommend that those concerned with the sport’s future and relevance study the following document, MANIFESTO 2001, TOWARD THE BETTERMENT OF BOXING.  Written and published by the AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF BOXING (AAIB) from Mt. Vernon, New York, this short, but intense, statement provides a good start in suggesting how to improve boxing.  Strongly and vigorously endorsed by THE JERRY QUARRY FOUNDATION FOR PUGILISTICA DEMENTIA, AAIB’s partner in many past legislative struggles, this Manifesto is a must-read for all those who care about the sport in a general and overall way.

  3. buster 08:53pm, 07/05/2017

    Today’s fans, or as the author describes them, “the self-proclaimed “hardcore die-hards” will do nothing to save this sick sport. Boxing has the “hardcore” fans it deserves and they are mostly a bunch of boxing nitwits. His description is very accurate. The real die hard fans who followed the sport in the 50s 60s, 70s and 80s have long abandoned it, realizing it cannot and will not be saved and is not worth even trying. Any sport that pays honor and respect to vile creatures like Don King and Jose Sulaiman and his minions (they are both in the Int’l Boxing Hall of Fame) can never be trusted and is not worth our time or attention. Boxing has the Hall of Fame it deserves. To the true diehard fan it is an embarrassment.

  4. Paul Magno 08:05pm, 07/04/2017

    Al Haymon gets boxing back on national TV—the old guard boxing guys (and their media lapdogs) rip the project to shreds….One of the old guard gets boxing back on ESPN and we immediately get a screw job finish…There’s a theory out there that the old guard boxing guys DON’T want boxing to get bigger and more legitimate for fear of losing control to “real” businessmen….They want to keep boxing big enough that it’s profitable (and controllable) for them and tarnished enough so that no legit business entity would want to take over…I’m not sure I completely buy into that, but SOMETHING is going on…Maybe it’s just a case of con men and hustlers only knowing how to con and hustle…

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 02:29pm, 07/04/2017

    CJ Ross judging high profile fights and turning in screwed score cards that literally can change the course of careers and lives…..no problem. Referees with their signature salutes when they are introduced that dance around the ring seemingly totally oblivious to their most important duty to protect the fighters that just happen to be in that ring with them. No problem there either…after all we all know it’s a “dangerous sport”. Or agenda driven referees that “let them fight” blind to all manner of dirty shit being pulled in that ring by a “favored” fighter, yet on high alert to the slightest clue that it’s time to shut this one down so that favored one can get on with the rest of his career. There is a deep money state in boxing that like things just the way they are thank you….why do you think that there is like zero interest for instant replay as a tool to straighten some of this chaotic shit out.

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