Let the Roses Bloom

By Robert Ecksel on February 20, 2012
Let the Roses Bloom
Roses bloom in the unlikeliest of places, sometimes even in garbage dumps (Robert Ecksel)

Boxing has suffered so many black eyes over the years that it looks less like a sport than a panda. Boxing, whose aim is questionable…

“Live for today, forget yesterday, and have hope for tomorrow.”—Mickey Walker

Boxing has suffered so many black eyes over the years that it looks less like a sport than a panda. Boxing, whose aim is questionable at best, shoots itself in the foot with such regularity that it’s a miracle it can still glide around the ring. But that’s boxing for you, theater of the unexpected, theater of the absurd, theater of the defunct that somehow still remains the greatest show on earth.

Those of us who follow the sport—its glorious past, its questionable present, its uncertain future—are naturally dismayed by the weekend’s events.

Dereck Chisora proved that he can fight, while at the same time establishing his bona fides as a classless and ignorant thug. David Haye also proved he can fight, but not in the ring when it counts. And the debacle in Corpus Christi, while a slap in the face of fair play, is something we’ve seen countless time over countless decades. Does anyone remember the first Joe Louis-Jersey Joe Walcott fight? What a rip-off that was. Has anyone read “Boxing Babylon” by former Ring editor Nigel Collins? A great book about a great sport’s less-than-shining moments. Can anyone say Frankie Carbo? He makes Don King look like a piker.

This stuff is part and parcel of boxing and has always been so. The more things change the more they stay the same. Boxing is a dark art, and all the klieg lights in the world won’t change that glaring fact. The gloss and glitter of Las Vegas, the elevation of bogus into iconic, not to mention round card girls with silicon breasts the size of globes, don’t ever fully distract, except those for whom distraction is less a choice than a state of mind, from some of the terrible things the sport has done to itself.

Perhaps it need not be that way. The fans deserve better. The fighters deserve better. The sport deserves better. But boxing is what it is, which is unfortunately not substantially different what it was. I’m all for reform—in lieu of revolution—and am on the edge of my seat waiting for that paradigm shift to occur. But at the same time I have to come accept boxing, even to embrace boxing, warts and all. She may look like a broken-down crack whore in the light of day, but she ain’t half bad under a harvest moon.

Boxing is, in a sense, a sub-genre of true crime. It’s so full of hustlers, rustlers, sociopaths, deadbeats, and bullshit artists that one could be blindfolded, and drunk for that matter, and still throw a rock in any direction and chances are you’d catch one of them right between the eyes. Yet the disgust boxing engenders is, oddly enough, part of boxing’s charm.

I used to ask myself, before I knew better, if the worst people on earth were naturally drawn to boxing, or whether boxing, like politics, corrupted their sense of right and wrong once they experienced it up close and personal and came to understand exactly how things operated.

I’m the boy in a bubble now, immune to all the viruses that swirl around me. I’ve surrounded myself with intelligent, talented, honorable men, some of whom are young and some who are not, that love the sport, sometimes less for what it is than what for it was and might become. These are people with heart and soul and convictions, albeit not the types of convictions that land people in the slammer. They remind me that even in boxing’s darkest hour, all is not lost.

For every dozen Dereck Chicoras and David Hayes and Panama Lewises and Don Jordans, there’s a Klitschko. The Ukrainian brothers may not be to everyone’s taste, but there’s no denying their intelligence and intrinsic decency. They may be the exception to the rule, the bright lights that illuminate boxing’s dead of night. But for those of us who also believe ourselves to be exceptions to the rule, it’s good to know that we’re not alone.

While boxing’s version of the Munich Beer Hall Putsch was going down Saturday night, the Klitschkos didn’t join the fray. They sensibly kept themselves apart and were as embarrassed for boxing as they were for Del Boy and the Hayemaker, who between them have no more sense than God gave a goat.

Now that the dust has settled, now that Chisora has been released from police custody, now that David Haye is still on the run (a Haye specialty I dare say), Wladimir Klitschko has written an open letter to fight fans, and to boxing, expressing his dismay at the recent debacle.

Dear friends,

I am shocked and deeply embarrassed by the actions of Dereck Chisora and his team over this past week. It saddens me how he represented the sport of boxing and disrespected the Champion of the World Vitali Klitschko at the weigh-in and fight night. But even more embarrassing and disgraceful to the sport was the post fight press conference.

With journalists from all over the world in attendance, this same man Dereck Chisora, got into a fight with Adam Booth, the trainer of David Haye, and David Haye himself. Dereck then promised out loudly multiple times right in front of the press to “personally SHOOT AND KILL David Haye!!!”

For all of the great Champions from the past that have been polishing the image of the sport of boxing and giving it the glamour, respect and recognition while setting a good example for the youth of the world to follow, this type of behavior kills all that hard work from the former champs and teaches disrespect for the sport and fellow human beings.

There has to be consequences for these kinds of actions and must never be tolerated by the boxing organizations, the media, fellow boxers and boxing fans. It must be stopped, otherwise the sport of boxing is going to go down the hill fast!

I just wanted to share my feelings and thoughts with you and hope some type of action is taken to show the world that the sport of boxing WILL NOT tolerate this kind of behaviour.

With respect,

Wladimir Klitschko

That too is boxing. It’s not a handy mea culpa from a sanctioning body or fake piousness from a promoter. It’s from the heavyweight champion of the world. Boxing embodies the good, bad and ugly, and everything in-between. But roses bloom in the unlikeliest of places, sometimes even in garbage dumps.

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  1. mikecasey 08:34am, 02/20/2012

    That blooming little rose in the picture is certainly helping to inspire me.

  2. "Old Yank" Schneider 08:23am, 02/20/2012

    I will die carrying around a fondness for a childhood music instructor—the late and unheralded Paul Steiner. He pressed me to do better and be better all the time. He would extol that perfection is not reachable on earth, but doing it better is always possible. So he’d insist that I do it again, only better. We can do better!

  3. "Old Yank" Schneider 08:18am, 02/20/2012

    If wearing it on one’s sleeve can be put into words, then this article did so with enough chevrons to make the author a five-star general.

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