Is it getting more difficult to defend your love of boxing?

By Cheekay Brandon on March 11, 2015
Is it getting more difficult to defend your love of boxing?
Explaining the sweet science aspects of boxing to the uninitiated is…challenging.

We fans of the sport can reengineer boxing as the sport of tastemakers: the sport of thinkers, history buffs and scribes, rather than the bloodthirsty…

The conversations that require fans to justify their love of the sport seem to be more frequent and more difficult to navigate than every before. Why?

With the recent signing of the Mayweather-Pacquiao megafight, boxing has re-entered the daily conversational universe for the first time in over a decade. Over the next two months, we can expect boxing chatter in the workplace tearoom. At the local gym locker room. Even with your in-laws. 

If you’re a diehard fan of boxing, a conversation or two will involve some variant of the following:

“So [your name], you’re a fan of boxing. That’s interesting. I wish I could get into it, but I can’t get past the violence. Why do you like boxing?”

Most recently, I had this “why boxing” question-encounter with the perfect foe: a highly intelligent, academic historian and attractive woman. I wrote the descriptors in their order of relevance, and highlight “attractive woman” only because it probably amplified my “need (want)” to communicate carefully. The “academic historian” part, however, is key, because she’s been raised in a very particular (and rigorous) school of inquiry and scholarship. This historian happens to study the caste system in South Asia, which implied that she was equipped to digest phenomenon with complex, non-linear, and morally dubious histories. Boxing certainly qualifies.

My answer was similar to the one many-a-boxing fan has given.

I love boxing because:

(a) We find the sport exciting: The simulation of a fight to the death (emphasis on simulation) invokes a very authentically human source of curiosity, the same one that packed the Roman Colosseum in yesteryear. We don’t have to act on behalf of this curiosity in our real lives (as in, behave violently. This is something non-boxing fans don’t seem to understand; watching boxing doesn’t desensitize you to the evils of violence in the real world. I’m mostly pacifist, barely squash bugs scurrying across my kitchen, but that watching pugilism is entertaining is difficult to debate against. Acts of aggression, in some form, have served as entertainment in just about every human society. What has changed is the constitution of socially acceptable forms of aggression. Perhaps we’re headed to an age where the only violence we’re entertained by is in silico or with robots (as in the 2011’s Real Steel). That doesn’t mean that our enjoyment of pugilism is any less essentially human. It just means that cultural evolution can create new ways to satisfy this urge. 

(b) We find the history compelling: Boxing is arguably the sport with the most captivating cast of characters. The most unique kinds of enigmas, heroes, villains and hero-villains you’ll ever come across. Something about fighting seems to breed fictional protagonists in flesh and blood. There’s nothing like it.

(c) The relation to matters of social significance/metaphors for society: Who the boxers are and how they were delivered to the sport can tell an important story about society. And as society changes, the boxers change. As do the styles of fighting. For example, pugilistic sports are exploding in popularity among women in the western world. This almost certainly speaks to the expansion of socially acceptable manifestations of womanhood and femininity (among other things).

(d) The sweet science itself: The cognitive skill set. The matching of wits and styles. Boxing is a highly scientific enterprise. It’s no different, in many ways, than any puzzle or competitive exercise where mental gymnastics are on display. This one simply involves punches of a wide variety, and is bolstered by the fact that these cognitive gifts play out on a landscape of elite athleticism and conditioning.

The historian seemed to dig it, nodded as I reeled off point after point in succession. The material didn’t come across as pedantic, but rather, was laid out comfortably in regular banter. And she seemed convinced enough that she wanted to read my boxing writing, the ultimate sign that my argument was effective (piquing curiosity is better than fostering agreement, as one can more easily feign the latter).

This exchange would qualify as one of the better ones I’ve had. While I rarely participate in debates on these matters (not worth the time), I have found myself having to answer the “why do you like boxing?” question more in recent years than ever before, often defensively. Having just had a conversation where I was able to convince someone that my reasons were good enough to warrant further examination, I thought about why I might be asked this question more now than ever before. I came up with a list of reasons, and interrogated each.

Overall, boxing seems to be declining in popularity. The logic here says that because boxing isn’t as popular as it was, fewer people are familiar, and will need a basic introduction to the sport and its appeal. The basic arithmetic of this argument makes sense. This explanation is, however, missing something very essential: a chunk (magnitude debatable) of boxing’s fan base is now watching mixed martial arts (MMA), which is at least as violent, has none of boxing’s long history, social metaphors, legacy of great characters and scholars (this is no knock; it’s just a newer sport). 

And interestingly enough, boxing’s overall decrease in popularity presents an opportunity: we fans of the sport can reengineer boxing as the sport of tastemakers: the sport of thinkers, history buffs and scribes, rather than the bloodthirsty. And while the big money machine will always rely on bloodlust (at least in part), it doesn’t need to define the flavor of boxing fandom. Sites like boxing.com, for example, are examples of this—composed of a breadth of thinkers and writers who cover everything from your local fight at the Boston House of Blues, to shakeups within Golden Boy Promotions, and previously unknown stories of Willie Pep’s life and times. Boxing’s recent fall in popularity means that it has pruned many of its smaller branches, leaving only the careful thinkers and dedicated fans. It is becoming an espresso sport, only for those who care to taste the beans, who think the longer trip to the artisan coffee shop 20 minutes away is time and money better spent than the Dunkin Donuts on the corner. This isn’t a good or bad thing, but it might be an opportunity for espresso tasters to look forward to interacting with other espresso tasters, a chance to carve out a more unique niche. 

Or maybe not. 

There seems to be a general decrease in society’s tolerance for violence. Another big reason that a love of boxing has become more difficult to defend involves an apparent decline in society’s tolerance for violence, an idea supported by a decline in many forms of violence around the world

The idea here is that as humans learn that violence is something to be avoided, sports that involve violence will decline in popularity. Some problems with this general argument are that sports like American Football are currently more popular and lucrative than ever before. The popularity of football has, however, been sullied by a run of bad press surrounding the prevalence of head injuries and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in former players. Whether or not this press threatens the long-term popularity of the NFL brand isn’t clear, but it certainly hasn’t helped it. 

It’s probably fair to say that this bad press, and its associated social concern, has trickled into boxing. Or one can argue that the Parkinsonian Muhammad Ali is a worse image than any involving an injured or deceased football player (perhaps the defining image of an athlete ruined by their own craft). Either way, it’s probably fair to say that the public’s increasing familiarity with the dire consequences of head injuries has been bad for the boxing, has called into question the very basics of our fandom: how can you love a sport where participants suffer such savage damage?

To reply, you can either debate the data (that connects head trauma to CTE and other neurological conditions), or try to drive a wedge between the head trauma in football and the head trauma in boxing. One might highlight that boxing has been relatively transparent about the risk, has required ringside physicians and had rules to protect fighters for many years. One can also add that the injuries in boxing might differ from football, where concussion symptoms are difficult to detect by health professionals and can therefore go undiagnosed, and accumulate over time. Football is after all, a team sport, where medical attention is dispersed across an entire team. In boxing, safety concerns are focused on the two individuals in the ring. None of these arguments are particularly strong, however, and convincing anyone that boxing is actually safe is a tall order. It very well might not be.

The next smartest thing would be to concede that safety is a problem, but that you support measures to make boxing safer, including changes in sparring practices (where most of the head trauma takes place), and stricter standards on the amateur circuit. This won’t win you any debates, but you’ll at least sound human while losing. 

The scientific aspects of boxing are hard to communicate. Explaining the sweet science aspects of boxing to the uninitiated is…challenging. Much of the difficulty resides in the fact that people can’t make it past the violence: they have a hard time turning off the sound in their head that says “punching = violent = bad.” 

As a former trainer, I’d say the easiest way teach the beauty of boxing is through a training session. There I can teach the art (and arc) of the individual punches, the variation in punch styles and defensive methods, footwork, the infinite permutation of body movements and strategies that underlie a single punch exchange. I can also mimic and contrast the styles of historical fighters (for example, the length and jabbing of Larry Holmes vs. the head movement and upward explosion of Mike Tyson), explain why certain strategies and styles were effective.

Unfortunately, many of my boxing discussions, and especially questions about why I love the sport, are within verbal exchanges. How do we explain these kinds of details in words? In some ways, explaining boxing is similar to explaining quantum mechanics, the sub-field of physics that has captivated many, eluded many others. It is infamously difficult to teach to undergraduate physics students, and even more difficult to explain to the non-quantitatively minded (or equipped). The challenge is in finding shortcuts, metaphors and analogies that can hook into the minds of the curious but unprepared, carry extra explanatory bang for the buck. For boxing, an effective go to example is Muhammad Ali’s use of lead right hand, without a lead jab, in the “Rumble in the Jungle,” the punch that helped him slay the mighty George Foreman. It took precision, intellect, preparation and involved risk. And it worked. And because everyone knows who Muhammad Ali is, it tends to stick with people.

Thankfully, the difficulty in making people see the beauty signal through the noise (or red herring) isn’t only a boxing problem. Dramatic theater struggles with it. As does studio art. And jazz. And like these other crafts, public appreciation can be difficult to secure and predict. Charismatic or transcendental figures often help build bridges to outsiders. Floyd Mayweather, with his savant-grade mastery of boxing’s X’s and O’s, would qualify but his outside-the-ring transgressions and villainous persona prevent that. This is unfortunate.

The organizational and financial structures are puzzling, corrupt and indefensible. It takes a savvy non-fan to recognize the peculiarities of boxing’s organizational structure enough to formulate actual questions. Boxing doesn’t have a single, unified league. It has several autonomously governed, commensal institutions (IBF, WBO, etc.), each with their own rankings and championship title belts. There is no labor union that protects the interests of the athletes. There are different boxing commissions for individual states. 

Trying to explain the structure of this at all, let alone justify it, is nearly impossible. Boxing’s business structure resembles a racketeering ring more than a professional sports circuit, with a staple of shady characters, wink-wink deals, corruption, and rule-bending (and breaking).

But there is hope: while Golden Boy Promotions seems to be in the middle of rough times, its ascent to near dominance in the 2000s provided a model for how a more fighter-focused management could be profitable. If nothing else, it introduced competition to the world of manager-kingpins that have presided over boxing for decades. Newer, relatively fighter-friendly models are partly responsible for knocking Don King out of boxing, and even mainstays from the old guard like Bob Arum had to adjust their methods to accommodate the modern boxer. Even Jay-Z’s Roc Nation has secured big name fighters, and promoted several successful boxing events. While none of this qualifies as the wholesale fix that boxing truly needs, at least people seem to be trying.   

It’s the people, not the pugilism. In the end, boxing’s future rests on two contingencies: the public’s belief that it is relatively safe (unlikely), and our ability (those who study, write and talk about boxing) to communicate its beauty: the personalities, the stories, the science. Strangely, the rise of mixed martial arts (MMA) might help with the latter—MMA seems to embrace its Cro-Magnon elements (to great financial ends), and its fans often boast about how much tougher its participants are than boxers. Without getting into an unnecessary comparison between the two, I suggest that the boxing community let MMA win that “debate,” because boxing no longer needs that crown to be successful.  Boxing should, instead, focus on those elements that add humanity to the people behind the punches, and emphasize the outstanding cognitive wizardry on the display in every match. These elements, and especially boxing’s glorious history of unique figures—from Jack Johnson to Dempsey, Willie Pep to Rocky Marciano, Cassius Clay to Mike Tyson—are unlike those in any sport (or arguably any institutionalized human activity). And while boxing might be a different animal today, the stories are there. The hunger is there. The science is there. 

We just need to be smart enough to notice and tell the world about it. 

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  1. PhilipA 11:56am, 04/22/2015

    This alongside ‘60 blows(Thoughts of a graying Pugilist) are at the absolute top of my favourite boxing articles. Thanks Cheekay!
    Great post James Turner.
    Also was Ali not predisposed to parkinson’s? I know many people quickly resort to the ‘look at ali’ card when talking about the dangers of boxing

  2. Kid Blast 03:48pm, 03/21/2015

    Holy shit Joe, I just my cut and paste that and use it myself kind of like Ron Borges does,

  3. Joe Masterleo 09:02am, 03/21/2015

    Thought provoking column, though I think you hit the nail on the head with the notion that violence (and boxing) have become a tougher sell over the years, (save for the fringe MMA bloodlusters) and has itself dropped out of contention as a major sport.  Pacquiao - Mayweather, will prove to be a flash-in-the-pan.  Reason?  Such a revivalist tent meeting won’t spark a boxing revival, as sports fans now have too many choices on the menu to whet their voyeuristic competitive appetites.  Football is fast becoming the new cigarettes, having reached its heyday as boxing and horse racing once had.  The guilt (conscious or unconscious) associated with having a zeal for that which diminishes life, as opposed to that which enhances it, has ingrained itself into the collective consciousness of mankind worldwide, inevitably so, and is likely to continue running its refining evolutionary course.  At the core, homo sapiens, being in possession of both a reptilian and mammalian brain, can only be in greater conflict between themselves and higher forms of evolved consciousness, before the primitive stuff gradually becomes devalued, suppressed and extinct.  As for boxing, to a more sensitized mind and world, legalized violence by any other name (sweet science, art, strategizing, sport, entertainment, etc.) still smells the same, persistent denials and cogent rationalizations to the contrary notwithstanding.

  4. Mark Jackson 07:34am, 03/17/2015

    http://bit.ly/1x9jI06

  5. Jesse 07:55am, 03/15/2015

    Why I love boxing I try n explain like this…. I say, it’s just like chess, u have to play offense n defense at the same time. The exception is ur pieces that ur playing w are ur body! Ur skill level, ur conditioning, ur will, and so on vs the other guys “pieces”.
    One mans mind n conditioning vs another’s.  The ultimate chess game

  6. James Turner 01:53am, 03/13/2015

    Excellent post, Mr. Belfiglio.

  7. peter 06:23pm, 03/12/2015

    This article is a keeper. Thanks!

  8. Valentine Belfiglio 01:43pm, 03/12/2015

    Those who oppose the support of boxing do not take into sufficient account its value to society. Boxing provides thrilling entertainment to fans worldwide. It also offers employment, upward social mobility and hope to thousands of boxers, managers, trainers, referees, judges, promoters and others. In addition, the sport generates millions of dollars in taxes and for charitable causes.The sport offers an oulet for controlled, rather than uncontrolled aggression. Many boxers have been saved from lives of crime, and gone on to fame and fortune because of their success in the sport. Also, the diet, exercise and habits of boxers can prolong rather than shorten their lives. The training I went through in collegiate boxing helped me to easily adapt to combat training when I was drafted into the army during the Vietnam War.

  9. Eric 11:15am, 03/12/2015

    Laila Ali is now calling out Ronda Rousey and Rousey appears to be answering the challenge. Ali hasn’t fought in years, have no idea how old she is, but I hope for her sake, she doesn’t plan on fighting Rousey in the cage. Probably just a publicity stunt by Ali because Rousey would destroy her in an MMA match. I like MMA and boxing, probably favor boxing because I have been a fan since Frazier-Ali I. Don’t see any reason why you can’t appreciate both sports, the same way people are fans of multiple team sports.

  10. Kid Blast 09:28am, 03/12/2015

    The argument can turn on medical, religious and/or moral grounds and I’m not smart enough to figure it all out.

    I do believe a neurosurgeon would be a difficult person to debate this with. Having suffered a subdural hematoma, I DO know what the dangers are better than most, but that’s just me. Bottom line, I have a love-hate relationship with boxing and the pendulum shifts from time to time. Right now it’s moving in the direction of love.

  11. Laurena 08:19am, 03/12/2015

    The Fight Film Collector-  Lovely post.  Couldn’t agree with you more on all counts!

  12. The Fight Film Collector 08:17am, 03/12/2015

    This premise of this piece asks a great question and thank you Cheekay for your long and thoughtful response.  Personally I don’t have any more problem defending boxing now than I did 40 years ago.  When you love something, or someone, speaking up is second nature.  And if you can speak up with passion rather than emotion, it’s not hard to be persuasive.  I did want to add that while it’s true that MMA has been around in many forms for a very long time, it’s not related to boxing’s decline.  Boxing has been declining slowly in stages since the 1960s and for many reasons, most of them cultural.  The MMA audience, for the most part, were never boxing fans to begin with.  The rise of MMA isn’t so much a response to boxing than it is a radicalized wing of professional wrestling.

  13. Kid Blast 07:45am, 03/12/2015

    Irish, his dad will “protect” him

  14. James Turner 03:48am, 03/12/2015

    The answer to the proposed question of
    “Is it getting more difficult to defend your love of boxing”
    is simple:

    No.

    The violence is in the mind of the misunderstanding public, not in the sport. You defend your target areas and you hit your opponent’s. It’s a human game of chess. The checkmate being the knockout. It’s the most innately satisfying sport (fighting) because it’s the purest form of competition.

    Humans have a history of warfare from the beginning of their existence. Yes, we are born to fight and it’s in our DNA. But, as the sport of fighting stands today, the only animosity or perceived “violence” is in the mind; it’s only the perception of the combatant or the viewer that then defines fighting competition as “violent”, “barbaric”, or otherwise…

    To quote the great kickboxing legend Don Wilson, “Violence is in the mind, not in the sport”.


    -As a side note, MMA certainly can be said to have a long history, contrary to what was posted in this article, because it is the fusion of many martial arts disciplines that can be traced back thousands of years.

  15. Aztec Warrior 12:37am, 03/12/2015

    During a live radio interview at one of last years IBHOF festivities, Al Bernstein was asked if he believed boxing was dying. If I remember correctly, he replied that he’d heard it from someone that “Boxing will never die but it will also never save itself “.

  16. NYIrish 08:01pm, 03/11/2015

    Not the vato in his corner. They need to get a trainer that can teach him how to get away from a punch.

  17. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 07:01pm, 03/11/2015

    Sometimes it’s the fighter who needs to be protected from himself and “his people”....after the hellacious beating ( Oh, yes it was and moral victories don’t count, no they don’t) this past Saturday, Guerrero is acting like he won and saying he wants two more fights this year! The question remains….who is going to do the protecting?

  18. Kid Blast 06:45pm, 03/11/2015

    the music industry is at the very bottom of the Gowanus Canal

  19. Laurena 11:19am, 03/11/2015

    As a female, I’ll say that this works both ways.

    I have only been able to convince my peers of boxing’s merits by expressing my intimate knowledge of Flamenco dance and the similarities with boxing. I suppose people can accept my passion for boxing a little easier when they can relate it to something, that while somewhat obscure in our culture, is considered a “beautiful” art form.

    As far as boxing’s future, one can only hope that things will get better… however, if anything is as corrupt as boxing, it’s most certainly the music industry.

    Thank you, Cheekay, for such a thoughtful article.

  20. AKT 10:16am, 03/11/2015

    I also got into a debate with an intelligent lady (no competition Cheekay!) a while back who couldn’t believe that I was a boxing fan considering how much violence the sport exudes. She asked me if I’d ever let my son become a boxer to which my simple response was “if that’s what he wants to do”. I think this article hits the nail on the head in the sense that there is so much more that goes on in the ring than punches connecting. It’s like saying that all a plane does is release harmful fumes into the sky and completely ignoring the fact that it also transports people from place to place.

  21. Ted Spoon 09:45am, 03/11/2015

    Kid - I’m not sure there’s any lustre left, if there was any to being with, of Campbell facing Coyle. That was a heavy knockdown.

    Back to the article, my mother ended up cheering for Paul Smith in the rematch against Arthur Abraham. She is not a fan but got caught up in the story. Even for those who think boxing is simply barbaric that doesn’t mean it won’t ‘get you’ at some point.

  22. AKT 09:44am, 03/11/2015

    Now, I am not sure whether this write up was really about boxing or an attractive female historian. (Although, truth-be-told boxing does reflect some beautiful lessons in history).

    Did you get her number? Definitely sounds like you should hold on to it ;-)

  23. Kid Blast 09:12am, 03/11/2015

    Irish, Cheekay has stirred up some shit here. lol

  24. Kid Blast 09:12am, 03/11/2015

    Yes, Ted,. I wrote that Coyle would crunch The Kat. Thankfully, he did it with one punch and fast.

    Katsidis is the poster child for my point.

    Speaking of Coyle, he will get waxed when he fights Campbell in a rather big one. Tommy has a chin issue.

  25. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:57am, 03/11/2015

    Ted Spoon-Which reminds me….100 Billion have gone before you and 153,000 will die sans violins on your birthday and without the benefit of embalming, the enzymes that digest your food will start to digest you in three days time….which reminds me…..God Bless you, Cheekay, but this article made me feel like I was in the back row at night school in City College all over again.

  26. Ted Spoon 08:57am, 03/11/2015

    Kid - You make a good point. It was nice to let Michael Katsidis know how exciting his career had been. Shortly after that he was badly rocked by Tommy Coyle - a guy who would have been cannon-fodder years ago. Of course scarring of the brain had been found the year earlier. Stricter rules need implementing in such cases.

  27. Kid Balst 08:47am, 03/11/2015

    Agreed

  28. Eric 08:42am, 03/11/2015

    Kid Blast… I think the Klits would beat most men who ever held the heavyweight title. So we are on the same page there. As for finding people interesting, that is always going to differ from person to person, or at least it should in a free society. I find all sorts of people “interesting” and would love to have a sit down with them for all sorts of reasons. I would have found Joe Louis boring as hell also, so it has nothing to do with the talent of the fighter. Larry Holmes = zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  29. Kid Blast 08:33am, 03/11/2015

    Eric, like I said, neither side will budge.

    As for who I will have a beer with, I am mighty choosey on that one. But it would not be Broner

  30. Kid Blast 08:31am, 03/11/2015

    No, brain damage is at the crux of moral bickering for me. Death in the ring can be rationalized if all precautions have been taken and it still happens. For me, that derives from the culture of boxing. If one cannot accept that, than he or she should stay away.


    But what I can’t fully rationalize is the brain damage a large percentage of fighters suffer. I am still trying to do this and constantly stay in touch with Doctors John Stiller and Margerate Goodman to seek ways for reform in this regard. And there are ways, but there are both structural and other obstacles. That’s what I am all about—reform in boxing—to make it safer for the combatants in some way or another..

  31. Ted Spoon 07:51am, 03/11/2015

    When it comes to death inside the ring, which is at the crux of moral bickering, people lack perspective. The reality is many victims would have been swallowed by their surroundings instead - without trace. It’s actually how most people die, every second, minus a violin. Many laced ‘em up before imploding. And now that they lost their life while trying to make something of it boxing is damned? Aside from double standards we’re up against it with equalitymania runnin’ wild. These exaggerated efforts to appease and include have interwoven with new scientific findings that everything is bad for you. It’s all helped feminise the spirit of the nation, and ultimately, made a pincer movement with inaccessible PPV’s to demote the sport considerably…Having said that Mayweather-Pacquiao is great news.

  32. Eric 07:24am, 03/11/2015

    @Kid Blast… I love the Eastern Europeans as fighters, but they just seem incredibly dull outside the ring. I certainly admire their class, but I just don’t find them interesting. Fighters like Dempsey would have been interesting had they never even had a professional fight. No one can dispute that the Eastern Europeans are dominating in the higher weight classes. While I admire Wlad as a fighter, and consider him one of the greatest heavyweight champs of all time, he wouldn’t be on my top 10 lists of fighters to want to share a cold one with.

  33. Kid Blast 07:24am, 03/11/2015

    “The Eastern European fighters are all super talented, but can you get any duller personalities than Wlad, Krusher, or GGG? “

  34. Kid Blast 06:52am, 03/11/2015

    The Eastern European fighters are all super talented, but can you get any duller personalities than Wlad, Krusher, or GGG? 

    I submit that fighters from Eastern Europe are saving boxing. Add in Ruslan and Beterbiev and it gets even better. Also, some of the surging Asian fighters are replacing Mexicans as being popular and topical.

    But the old vs.the new argument has been vetted and I have no energy for arguing it any longer. Neither side will budge so why fight it?

  35. Clarence George 06:43am, 03/11/2015

    Really?  I’m ashamed of myself for not having recognized him.  Thanks, Robert.

    And not a fight that’s going our way, Eric, either in terms of America (and the West in general) or boxing.

  36. Eric 06:38am, 03/11/2015

    Clarence…. I hate getting older on one hand, but on the other hand,  the direction this country and the world is heading, I’m kind of glad I’m closer to the grave than the cradle. America, like boxing, is in a fight for its survival.

  37. Robert Ecksel 06:30am, 03/11/2015

    The artist is Big George Bellows.

  38. Clarence George 06:25am, 03/11/2015

    Eric:  I think you and I are in agreement here.  I don’t at all see “a general decrease in society’s tolerance for violence,” except on the part of the middle class in its attitude toward sports other than tennis, resulting in the deplorable and self-destructive sissifying of boys.

    By the way, love the artwork.  Jack Johnson, isn’t it?  And who’s the artist?  Looks rather like Albert Sherman.  I’m fortunate to have one of his prints.  I found it discarded in the corner of an antique store in the Hamptons decades ago.

  39. Eric 05:47am, 03/11/2015

    I can only speak for my 53 years plus time on earth, but from what I have seen we are living in the most violent times in my lifetime. The laws of society might have less tolerance for violence but not the people. School fights, bar fights, were pretty routine back in the day, and most times the participants were the best of friends afterwards. Sucker punches were looked down upon and stomping a fallen opponent was a downright sin. Not so in today’s world where often street fights are much more violent. We live in a world where burning people alive, beheadings or “necklackings” can be viewed on the internet. MMA has been around now for 22 years, so a new generation has grown up with MMA as the chosen “combat” sport, and it seems that a lot of the MMA fighters are more “interesting” personalities than most of the current “name” boxers, not to mention that MMA more closely resembles the violence seen in a street fight.  The Broner/Mayweather “pimpin” thingy, the late night strip club adventures are pretty passe, and strip clubs are so ‘90’s. The Eastern European fighters are all super talented, but can you get any duller personalities than Wlad, Krusher, or GGG?  Boxing also hurt itself with the multiple champions and multiple weight classes. It would take nothing short of a miracle to return boxing back to its glory years of the Dempsey, Louis, Marciano, Ali, and even early Tyson days.

  40. Kid Blast 05:33am, 03/11/2015

    One has to be able to rationalize the brutality and medical dangers of the sport. I can do that based on an article written by Jim Lampley many years ago on the late Leavander Johnson. Still, it is an excruciatingly difficult thing to do because of the long range impact boxing has on its participants,

    Also, as long as Commissions are filled with political hacks, the dangers are increased.

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