Fighting For Scraps

You know how I know our socioeconomic system is perpetually screwed? Because boxing still exists. People with hope & options don’t box for a living. “Hi Mom, things are going great here at Harvard, I aced my Advanced Quantum Mechanics class and I got into Skull-and-Bones just like Dad–sorry, Mr. President. But I think I’m going to drop out and pursue boxing full time.”

Yes, he's fighting a bear. That's not a man sifting through job offers.
Yes, he’s fighting a bear. That’s not a man sifting through job offers.

“It’s the Sweet Science!” I don’t deny that it takes tremendous skill to box, but it doesn’t make poor people assaulting one another a science or sweet. Developing new flavors of Starburst is a sweet science. Developing the best strategy for inflicting a concussion on someone is more like strategic dickheadery.

Some proponents would point to the long, storied tradition of pugilism (such a nice, flowery word for minority cockfights). Tradition is an excuse, not a reason. (I wonder if there are any parallels I could draw here with other racist things being part of “tradition”…Nah, that’s crazy talk!) Nearly all royal families of all fiefdoms are heavily steeped in incest. Does that tradition mean it’s a good idea for siblings to procreate?

Mickey Rourke fought a homeless man and paid him to take a dive. Yeah, great "sport" you got there. Image and story courtesy of the NY Post.
Mickey Rourke fought a homeless man and paid him to take a dive. Yeah, great “sport” you got there. Image and story courtesy of the NY Post.

As a society, don’t we learn what is obviously barbaric treatment of people born of poverty? We don’t have Romanesque gladiator battles. We should be victimizing poor people through social policy, not through sport. Well, we shouldn’t be victimizing…you know what I meant.

People don’t willingly enter into a sport where you risk getting punched in the face repeatedly as a paycheck including all of the permanent face-and-brain damage unless they are thoroughly desperate to escape a dire situation.

I'm sure he's fine and there's no long-term damage. Photo courtesy of Reuters.
I’m sure he’s fine and there’s no long-term damage. Photo courtesy of Reuters.

I’m not talking about Mixed Martial Arts. I actually get MMA. I can get the urge to find out who is the best at physical combat. High school was/is predicated on who is the physically most dominant. And you have to know so many human-crippling techniques. Boxing is just punch-and-hug. It’s a  simplistic pseudo-sport centered around the brutalization of the impoverished.

The victimization isn’t just in the ring, it’s people with a better understanding of accounting giving haymakers to the boxers bank account. It’s one of the few remaining sports where the athletes are the lowest paid people in an industry. The promoter, the league, the state boxing commission, the venue, the trainers, everybody around boxing is making more money than the boxers. Boxing is like the iPhone and the boxers are the kids in the sweatshop putting it together.

Boys_with_hoops_on_Chesnut_StreetAside from the horror of the situation, boxing is boring. I don’t know how you make two people punching each other boring, but they’ve figured it out. In a world where we have MMA, boxing is unnecessary. It’s like in a world of video games, do we expect children to still be enthralled playing roll the hoop with a stick? They rejected my idea of it being five people in the ring fighting at once.

As often as movies cheaply use boxing as a metaphor, boxing itself is and always has been a symbol of what the rich and powerful do to the lower classes. Just for fun, here’s a list of all the people who have died since boxing became a recognized sport. I didn’t even get into the insane sexism of “Ring Girls.”

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15 Comments

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  1. It’s a tiny bit like football, isn’ it? How many times does someone need to get bashed in the head and get permanent brain damage before we maybe go “um, stop that”? (That being said, I totally still watch football – go seahawks – but I don’t know how someone can let their child play football, seeing the damage it causes…)

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    • Football is a little different because people from all socio-economic strata play. Snoop Dogg’s kid doesn’t need to play football and probably knows the risks, but there he is anyway, risking concussions. It’s kind of like smoking in that way, we all know the risks, but if you’re still going to do it, have at.

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  2. I’m more of the MMA persuasion myself but I sort of get boxing. Not professionally, of course. Everything you said about professional boxing is true and then some. Still, as an art form, I respect it. Also, I think the reason professional boxing is boring is because the fighters spend most of their time together in the ring trying to avoid getting hit in the head. In the end it just ends up being two sweaty guys in shorts dancing around each other, with occasional fist swinging, hugging then more dancing… while hugging… Kind of awkward when you think about it.

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  3. Apparently, the popularity of MMA is causing a serious decline in boxing and it is expected that the sport will just fizzle out in the near future. Not that I’m into either, but that’s what I heard on TV.

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  4. Without boxing, we wouldn’t have “Eye of the Tiger.” Without “Eye of the Tiger,” what would my coworkers play every morning when I walk in to work?

    More seriously, though, I’ve never seen a professional boxing match, so I don’t feel like I can say much of anything on it. My understanding is that it’s okay to shake someone’s brain loose, but not okay to bite their ear off.

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  5. A bunch of sweaty guys in shorts hugging each other. Reminds me of prom.

    I was home-schooled, though.

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  6. I have never understood the significance of boxing as a sport. Rocky….really?

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  7. I’ve never really been into boxing. Boring, eh. I didn’t realize all this about it though.

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  8. I watched boxing on TV only once. My question was WHY? What is the point? It’s a stupid sport from my POV and not worth my time.

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  9. I have always felt Sport is a bad thing

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  10. That’s quite a list of deaths. Max Baer, Jr.’s (Jethro’s) father, who might have been named Max Baer, was a boxer who killed a man in the ring. I watched a documentary recently about boxing. It’s known as the ghetto sport because it’s one of the few ways out of the ghetto. Many of the boxers who earned millions of dollars lost everything. The money came in, so they spent it until it was gone. I have no interest in boxing. Why are all those famous people sitting in the front rows at a boxing match? Do they enjoy the blood that splatters their clothes?

    Love,
    Janie

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  11. Stranger even, Pickleope Von Pickleope, is that my Grandpa Al was a boxer. I never met him, but he – like nearly all my family – was petite and scrawny. Died early too. Seems a full proof way to die young: get into brutal fights for a living. I can never watch. It’s too twisted and sadistic for my taste.

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  12. The last time boxing was interesting at all was in the days of Muhammad Ali and Howard Cosell. And that was more for the verbal sparring.

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  13. abeerfortheshower August 30, 2015 — 6:41 pm

    I’m big into MMA, and I train some of those particular forms, but don’t worry, I won’t talk your ear off about it while wearing a TAP OUT shirt that’s two sizes too small while calling you “bro” a thousand times. I think MMA is much more exciting than boxing, but sadly, in monetary form, it’s not all that different. MMA fighters get the scraps while UFC president Dana White has more money than God (I assume God is worth at least 9 digits). So do all of the other bigwigs or promoters. It’s the fighters, the ones that actually make everything happen, that get paid nothing.

    Some fighters in the UFC, for example – on a major PPV event, mind you – will only make about $8,000. For WINNING. Imagine what the loser gets. It’s not uncommon for fighters to have to start their own GoFundMe pages just for medical care. Or ask $500 because the UFC won’t even pay that for a corner man.

    http://www.gofundme.com/3sp1qo
    http://www.gofundme.com/33xss8

    They don’t get paid to train. They don’t get paid living expenses (aka a salary). They get paid a few thousand bucks per fight, and they only fight about 2-3 times a year. That’s why most of them save up what scraps they can and buy a gym to generate cash flow/have a free place to train.

    MMA – it’s the future, but it’s not going to be any different than boxing thanks to the rich assholes at the top.

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    • That’s a bummer to hear. Well, at least with the grappling side of things they can maybe avoid constant head trauma? Maybe? Dammit. Does everything have to be depressing? You can’t even get a weird smelling sandwich without being depressed now.

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