Redefining The School of Hard Knocks
01.08.05 - By Kevin Kincade: The other day I had this thought. I was reading an article here on Eastside where an author echoed a notion that was not unfamiliar to me concerning the heavyweight division and the lack of talent therein. I’m sure you’ve read it or heard some sage pundit repeat it: why would a bigger athlete become a boxer when he could play football or basketball for less risk and greater reward? There are too many better opportunities for would-be heavyweights that getting punched in the face for a living..
Article posted on 01.08.2005
My initial response was the same as yours; acknowledgement of a current economic and social fact that cannot be avoided: these are the times we live in and boxing’s “golden age” is no more. Today, prize fighting is generally accepted as a third rate sport by the masses.
Then, the bad taste of that thought, that acknowledgement of defeat to the supposedly kinder, gentler side of society welled up in my mouth like the venom of a deadly pit viper. I cannot accept that the sport that I love, the purest form of competition, the granddaddy of all sports should be cast aside as yesterday’s garbage; and Neither should You!
Why is it the first inclination is almost always to give in to supposedly “popular” demand and accept defeat if you’re in the minority? Do not most of the men who excel in our sport do so because they believe in themselves and reject the “common” variety of wisdom for the uncommon kind? Are they not dream chasers? Do they not pave their own destiny in spite of the odds? WE should follow their example and adopt their courage and “ring smarts” to confront those who would oppose our sport and beat them at their own game.
The biggest argument for “why we have fewer talented heavyweights” is because they are now playing football, basketball, baseball, or hockey, right? So, where do these kids come from and how do they find their way into the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL?
The bulk of professional athletes found their way into their chosen sport by way of a college resume; why can’t boxers do the same? Why can’t our major educational institutions sponsor boxing teams as easily as any other sports team? Politics? Social Acceptance? Demand?
HOGWASH!! Financial backing is the key! Money Talks and B.S. Walks; nothing is more true in the world of sports, amateur or professional. You donate a wing to a college or put enough butts in the seats and the next thing you know you’re watching the Collegiate Curling Championships on NBC. Don’t believe me? Replay the last Olympics and tell me Curling wasn’t a part of the line-up; and ribbon dancing or whatever the hell it’s called. Do you honestly believe these two jokes of the word sport made it to network airtime because of Popularity?? If Curling can do it, Boxing sure as hell can!!
I am sick and tired of these sissy audience-specific sports beating the “Granddaddy of them All” in airtime; but we’re letting it happen, friends. WE are sitting by idly while our passion, our love, OUR SPORT is being Bitch-Slapped into a corner somewhere.
Here is what I am proposing: a national boxing union; an organization of financial backers comprised of former fighters and boxing lovers who fiscally support collegiate boxing programs and the recruitment of promising young fighters, from heavyweight on down, for the purpose of giving struggling and capable young men the opportunity for a college-level education while advancing their reputations as nationally competitive pugilists and ultimately assuring them a retirement and insurance package, should they decide to fight professionally. In other words, offer young men the same opportunities that football, basketball, baseball, hockey, tennis, golf, and a whole host of other college programs…and then some.
Crazy? Not as crazy as you think.
Imagine young high-school-age-kids being offered a further education beyond their financial means on a “boxing scholarship”. Imagine college amateur boxing teams competing on a Golden Glove level; but with far more attention from the media. Imagine the top crop of collegiate boxers being scouted by managers, promoters, and networks for professional boxing contracts. Imagine more exposure for a more “socially acceptable” class of athletes for Our Sport. Imagine watching boxing on ABC, NBC, and CBS again. It can happen if enough former fighters and boxing fans with sufficient investment capabilities believe in the future of our sport and aren’t afraid to think outside “common knowledge”.
It all translates pretty simply: a college fan base will become a professional fan base for specific fighters which will result in public demand for media coverage of Our Sport, and hence, public exposure to non-collegiate boxers and a growing love for the sport, in general.
IT CAN HAPPEN! THIS PLAN WILL WORK!
At this point, some of you are thinking I’m either on Crack or Crystal Meth or just plain Crazy. All I can say is NO to the first two and maybe to the third; but you should be asking yourself WHY you question the possibilities. Are you afraid of something new or are you complacent with what “The Man” hands you? If you want to make a difference, Take A Chance! Ask Any Fighter and he’ll tell you the same thing. If you’re behind on points going into the 12th and final round, you can either accept your fate and be happy you went the distance or you can try to take your destiny into your own hands and GO FOR IT!!
Anyhow, those are my thoughts and here’s why. If you want to watch a fight on television where the winner is not known, you’re paying a cable fee at the very least, $49.95 at the worst. When was the last time you watched any fight on free TV that wasn’t somewhere in the middle of a Hockey Game? The 3 main networks currently do not have a weekly boxing series and haven’t for a very long time. That means the average viewer, who hasn’t already been turned on to boxing, never will see a match and fall in love with the sport the way we did. That, ultimately, means the fan base will diminish and, as a result, PPV revenues will diminish, and consequentially the number of men putting on gloves will diminish; or…….BOXING DIES!! YES……DIES!!! The handwriting is on the wall, whether it happens in our lifetime or not. We must launch a counter attack now!
There it is: my interpretation of the current situation; Agree or Disagree. The facts are in my corner and I don’t like them. And I do not believe that I am alone in my love for the sport…..I KNOW I AM NOT. Can you imagine a world without Corrales-Castillo, Bowe-Holyfield, Eubank-Benn, Hagler-Hearns, Holmes-Norton, Ali-Frazier, Marciano-Walcott, Robinson-Basillio, Williams-Jack, Louis-Conn, Zale-Graziano, Dempsey-Willard, or Sullivan-Kilrane? I can’t…..but THEY can. THEY don’t know what it’s like to watch two men, who believe they’re the best, prove it. THEY don’t see the drama, the science, the artistry, the passion….WE do; but THEY are winning. What’s Wrong with This Picture??
A National Boxing Union: young men would benefit from the plan, colleges would benefit from the plan, fans would benefit from the plan, and, most importantly, THE SPORT would benefit from the plan. Here’s our chance to take our sport’s destiny back into OUR hands. The time has come to quit complaining and do something; it’s put up or shut up time. Our Sport Must be saved from within; by the fighters and by the fans. Federal Involvement is out of the question. No one can depend on the government to fix anything. Not to mention, federal involvement would limit the growth to a world wide scale. It’s about the fighters, not the fat cats in Washington.
If you have a better idea…..Please share it. The main thing is preventing the anti-boxing groups from winning the battle in the long run. We cannot afford to be the silent minority anymore, laying on the ropes and taking the shellacking without uttering a peep of protest while Curlers, Ribbon Dancers and their flunkies take over the world!
Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme; but no one can deny boxing’s decline in popularity over the last few years or lack of presence on the boob tube. For those younger than myself, believe it or not, there was a time when you could invite your peeps over on Friday nights to watch “the fights”….every single Friday…..and you didn’t pay anything to watch.
When was the last time YOU stood up and said, “I’m Mad As Hell…..And I’m Not Gonna Take It Anymore!!”?
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