Friday, May 7, 2010
8. BOXING SLASH FIGHTING
He passes his guard, his shear size simply overpowers him and he's in, pounding away. Looping downward right hands straight to the side of the head. He breaks through his shielding arms like a crowbar through a car window and smashes fist against cheek bone time and time again. Blood is leaking wildly from several deep cuts. He's cut. Their lungs are searching for air and coming up short. He sees his eyes begin to drift back and up into the skull and this fuels him and he swings away even more wildly! He is unconscious now. He gets in two more good shots before the official pulls him from the tattered mess of writhing matter that remains twitching on the mat. He won. He is a champion.
Ladies and gentlemen... is this fighting? Is this class? Is this "manliness"? I whole heartedly argue that it is NOT.
The gruesome scene of inhumane barbarism described above is that of the most popular fighting sport out there these days. Mixed martial arts, MMA, Ultimate Fighting, UFC. These fighting events are enormously popular around the world and have been for years and years. The blood, the violence, the no holds barred rules all appeal to the "wish I were tough" crowd. However, this typ eof fighting is completely poisonous. All traces of humanity, sportsmanship, and civil decency are left at the door when fan and fighter alike enter the arena.
Ultimate fighting is nothing like boxing and this is a very good thing. Mixed martial arts is, to me, two men skillfully groping at each other in the missionary position trying to prove something to someone by demoralizing another man. I know that this isn’t how the fighters view it. I know it certainly isn’t how the fans view it. But I do. And for that reason I steer clear of it. True, when I was a young boy I would get excited about it and want to watch the next big Shamrock vs. So and So match with my older brother and grunt and yell but I chalk that up to inexperience and ignorance. As I grew older, wiser and more intelligent I came to realize that Boxing is for real fighters.
In the 1800’s pugilism (boxing) adopted universal rules known as the Queensbury rule. Now that just sounds classy in and of itself! These rules laid out the format that evolved into what we now know as boxing in our current culture. When a man is knocked to the mat by his opponent he is deemed “down” and has 8-10 seconds to rise back to his feet, present his gloves to the referee and prove that he is fully capable of continuing the bout. In a fight, be it a street scuffle or a regulation match, it is a true sign of self restraint, maturity, honor, and class, to refrain from a cowardly attack on your defenseless opponent when he is on the ground at his weakest. In MMA, however, this is celebrated and encouraged by the spectators, like Mike Vick at a dog fight. When a boxer has proven himself able to continue the fight also continues. Cheap shots to the groin and back of the head are not allowed. Disrespectful backhands are illegal. A fight will be stopped if one fighter continually fails to protect himself at all times. In the eyes of the MMA fanatic these characteristics of boxing are weaknesses and boring. However the truth is that these are some of the most noble and respectful conditions of pugilism and maintain the humanity and integrity of a fighter while he performs in the ring. A man should never cease to be a man simply because he covers his fists in gloves and ducks under the top rope into the ring. Indeed, in the ring is where a man must prove that he can maintain that integrity under the highest strain and pressure.
The world and human kind, as we have progressed technologically and in almost every other way, has slowly reduced itself back, in reverse toward animal instinct and barbarism while curiously and somehow maintaining a shell, just an appearance of advanced civility. We’ve become selfish and wanting. We seek to satisfy our carnal desires in any way possible. We forget our foundational belief in a God, a supreme creator, therefore neglecting the similar belief that we are more than just the evolution of the ape and more than just earthly flesh and sinew. The more civilized we become, the more animal we become. It’s the strangest thing. There are countless examples of this and few exceptions. One of these exceptions is boxing. The common misconception is that two men, writhing with hate and boiling over in rage storm into a ring amongst thousands of blood thirsty, adrenaline craved lunatics, set on killing one another for literally no reason at all. This would be more true of our ultimate fighting friends although I think, to be fair, neither form of fighting fits this mold. Boxing, in contrast, is so far from this scenario that it is a bit hard to see at first. However when examined you can see the purity of it. You cannot enter a boxing ring in a major bout without respecting yourself and the opponent you will face; his character, power, and skill as a person. And as for the reason you step in the ring with him in the first place, well… that’s still not certain.
Why did I get in the ring? The ring is a pure proving ground. A place to test yourself to the absolute limit. Have you ever tried to run a five minute mile on a treadmill at an 8% incline? Have you ever tried to do it with basketballs being thrown at your head and face? Do it. Succeed. And you’ll know a fraction of the feeling you get when you take everything a man has got right on the chin and you don’t waiver or run, or “tap out”. I did it because I wanted to be stripped of all that I thought I was and had, to find out what was left. When you’ve used up all the glucose, and the fat stores, and the ATP molecules to carry energy to your cells and muscles; when you’ve expelled all the energy into an opponent who is doing the same to you; when you are stripped of every positive thought, every glimmer of hope, every comfort and luxury and every single crutch you have ever used to hide what you really are… when all that is beaten out of you and nothing is left but this tiny gasping speck of life… well there you are. That’s you. You get in there and fight to be somebody and to find out who and what that somebody is. Too extreme? Then you must have never done it.
Boxing gives you the opportunity to cultivate your manhood, humanhood, and civility. It gives you the arena in which to test your control of all your insides and to test those of another man. It awards you the satisfaction of finally knowing exactly what you are capable of in this world. MMA is simply about crushing a man’s spirit and dignity until there is nothing left to fight for. Boxing will show you exactly what you are fighting for. If you don’t believe me step in the ring, I’ll show you.