Never to Be

By Wrigley Brogan on December 17, 2018
Never to Be
Pro boxing had been outlawed in Viet Nam until several years ago. (Wrigley Brogan)

After two years of searching the width and breadth of Viet Nam we finally found the girl of our dreams. And we couldn’t have her…

After two years of searching the width and breadth of Viet Nam we finally found the girl of our dreams. She was tall and thin and moved with the grace of a butterfly, punches flicking out with the speed of a cobra’s tongue, and she was beautiful. We had never seen a better boxer in the country. And we couldn’t have her.

Promoter Ray Frye and I had been attempting to set up a professional boxing program in Viet Nam. We had dreamed big: bring young boxers to the States to train then return them to Viet Nam to become national attractions; send American trainers to the country to teach boxers how to fight professionally; hold seminars on judging and referring; help set up a boxing commission; and to hold three fights a year: in Saigon, DaNang, and Hanoi.

I had an ulterior motive for this effort. For years I have been doing charity work in Nam. In a small way I had helped buy various goods with a former Australian artilleryman, Nev Tickner, the grandfather of Dien Bien Phu who has devoted his life to the children of orphanages in the mountains. I have helped put kids through school and worked with children at an HIV village. Except for one occasion I had used my own money. On the last trip I helped buy pillows for children at the Blood Cancer hospital in Hanoi. There is a high rate of cancer in Vietnam, possibly due to the chemicals used by the U.S. during the war. There are over 600 children at the hospital. Up to five kids sleep in a single bed. They had no pillows. Fifty percent of the kids die within the first year of diagnosis. I wanted to use part of the profits from the shows to help the kids after I am gone.

Professional boxing had been outlawed in Viet Nam until several years ago. The government does not allow violence and the national sport appears to be badminton. They also have a great soccer team. The Vietnamese enjoy sports and we felt they would like professional boxing. They have always had amateur boxing and there are numerous boxing gyms throughout the country. Many of the gyms are state-of-the-art and run by the government. As a communist country, the government runs everything and working through the bureaucracy is almost impossible, as we were discovering. Many countries function by graft, corruption, and dishonesty. Viet Nam is near the top of the list. Our own government often suffers from this same disease although such practices remain against the law. It is accepted in Viet Nam.

“The envelope” is expended with most dealings. That is what they call bribes. Cash is slipped into an envelope to pay off people of importance. Of course, like any society, there are honorable people in Viet Nam, even in the government. Although the country is now one country, they still operate like two, north and south. The man who runs sports in the north is a decent and honorable man. He lives in a modest house inherited from his father. He constantly attempted to help us and refused to accept any money. The man in the south, with the same position, lives in a villa and drives a Maserati. For us to do a show there he wanted $150,000 in the envelope.

Qualities that we respect, like honesty, fair play, morality, etc., even if not always followed, are not positive traits in many Asian countries. High on their list are deceit, the ability to effectively lie, to agree to one thing and do another, etc. This might sound ethnocentric or even racist but it is not even though it appeals to a certain stereotype. These Asian qualities have kept them alive for centuries, especially in Viet Nam, and especially when dealing with the west. Naturally things like treachery and deception would be respected and positive.

Because of language and cultural differences making any headway was proving difficult. We spoke with several amateur boxers and asked them if they wanted to turn pro. We explained that we would take them to the U.S. to train, pay for everything, and they would start by earning $800 a fight. The money would quickly rise depending on their performance. In a country where the annual income is about $1,500 we thought they would jump at the chance. They were not interested. That seemed strange to us. They could not really fight, anyway. They lacked “bottom.” Heart and guts are not traits they now possess. What we wanted was information.

The present Vietnamese are very childlike. That may be because they have a big mother, the government, that takes care of them. The people do not have to think, nor do most of them have to work hard, even their boxers. The government does all the thinking. The boxers all seemed rather lethargic and bored. We soon discovered why.

Amateur boxers are paid a decent wage by the government. Their families are also paid a stipend. When a boxer’s career is over they receive a lifetime pension. Boxers also earn additional money when they fight and even more when they win. Winning a championship at a tournament can bring them thousands of dollars. That, at least, was how the system was explained to us. That was why no one was interested. Being a professional boxer requires risk. Fighting for the government does not.

Then we found her, Tuan, the girl of our dreams. I do not know if that is her real name. You never know what is true or real in Viet Nam. She had more boxing skill than all the boxers we had seen in the country. Fry wanted her, and he wanted her badly, before the Vietnamese ruined her for the professional ranks. Already a trainer was making her come straight in and backing straight out. She had come in at an angle and came out at an angle. He told her that was a mistake.

After the workout we had a chance to speak. She wanted to come to the U.S. and to become a professional. She had bottom. Risk was in her veins. She smiled broadly, the sweat dripping from her forehead. Fry explained, that with her talent, he could make her a champion within two years. Because of her personality and her looks she would likely earn extra money through endorsements. Fry is not always interested in making money from boxing. What he likes is to build something. He wanted to build her, make her a star.

Enter—the Government. She could not leave Viet Nam. Basically the government had trained her, paid her, and seen to her welfare. In fact, the government owned her and she owed the government. That debt must be paid. Ray was willing to pass the envelope to have her. The government would not budge.

We sat at a table and continued to watch the other lugubrious boxers go through their lack-luster routines. Living in a free country is often difficult. One must make his way in the world. Working hard and to become a success is not assured, but is possible. An adult takes care of his mother; his mother does not take care of him. That’s the American way. That is the difference.

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  1. Your Name 09:39am, 12/18/2018


  2. Kid Blast 09:26am, 12/18/2018

    Why not focus on boxing? The other stuff just stirs bad juices.

  3. snowflake 08:31am, 12/18/2018

    You can always count on the comments section in this place for an impromptu eruption of crazy uncle MAGA ranting that has nothing to do with the article in question. Maybe lay off the sauce until at least noon gents

  4. Erect On Demand 08:13am, 12/18/2018

    Rapist, murderer on Rikers Island complaining about fellow beasts spanking their monkeys and literally raining semen all over the joint….on female guards hands and food trays…every Goddamned where! Female guards not helping matters either…. kevlar vests cover their upper torso so they walk the corridors with non-reg custom tailored pants that highlight that booty!

  5. Erect On Demand 07:46am, 12/18/2018

    “Qualities that we respect, like honesty, fair play, morality etc.”?! Who is this “we” that you refer to….do you have a mouse in your pocket?! The Neo-Marxist fux in the Media, Academia, Hollywood and Washington that are running this country into the ground could give two shitz less about those qualities! “Treachery and deception” “respected and positive”....fuk yea! The more mendacious the better….as long as it furthers the cause which is the “fundamental transformation” i.e. the destruction of the greatest nation in the history of the world!

  6. Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers 07:23am, 12/18/2018

    While I admire your long distance philanthropy, I think a great deal of Americans should read 1 Timothy 5:8. We have people worried about people all over the globe or well fed invaders at the border, while we have tens of thousands of homeless Americans sleeping in streets littered with human feces in places like Los Angeles and San Francisco. Nothing wrong with helping people, but start at home first.

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