As most of my readers already know about me, for the most part, I'm a peace loving, people's rights and liberties championing hippie who literally has not ever thrown a full fisted punch in my life. I wouldn't know how even if I tried. I may have in a fit of rage slapped a face once or twice, but literaly once or twice in a fit of rage (and not hard enough to do any damage). That's all I'm capable of at my worst. I have gotten through almost 40 years without a fist fight. I have actually been hit with a fist (by a girlfriend in high school - long story) and chose at the time to not fight back, but stand on the principle of non-violence and take the hits.
I do however have this guilty pleasure that contradicts all that I stand for politically and socially.
I love sports and the more brutal the better: football is awesome, but nowhere near as fun as rugby, not WWF wrestling-pansys, but UFC. Check out this sports blogger (American Legend) that I am having fun reading these days. I love all sports, but the really brutal ones seem to keep my attention year over year more consistently.
I realized this lying in bed last Saturday with cable set on one channel without the channel surfing remote even in armshot, I had watched this show weekly for months whenever it was on and this was by far the best one yet. The goal of boxing is to render your opponent physically unconscious, that is the closest to death a human brain can reach and still be alive.
My grandfather was the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the Army during WWII (think of how many young men were in the Army at the time, no small accomplishment). My mother was a huge boxing fan because of her dad. My father grew up listening to boxing matches on the radio and was as glued to the sport as my mother during my entire childhood. When I was 11 years old, my father's cousin (Earnie Shavers) fought an old and over the hill Ali. It is today still one of the Ali fights they will never replay on ESPN Classics because although Ali got a very controversial decision, he was beaten nearly to death in that fight. They had to have several people hold him up to award him the decision while my cousin danced around the ring looking ready to fight another 15 rounds. It was truly the low point of the Ali story, but for my family, we knew... My cousin beat the hell out of Ali and was robbed of the victory, ONLY because the champ managed to stay on his feet until the final bell. At the time you had to knock out the champ to be the champ. To this day, as much of an Ali fan as I am, I know he's got one in the win column that's marked in the wrong place... My pride for my cousin's achievement will live on for a lifetime.
When I was 12, I was listening to the radio one morning and I heard "Be caller #10". I won these all the time back then (no idea why), so I dialed, not even knowing what the prize was, the announcer picked up and said "You're caller #10, you win two tickets to the Eagles Club for a boxing match!"
So my dad and I went to that match. I saw for the first time, the sweat flying when a punch connected to a face. I could hear the moans from the crowd and knew before the announcer that a cut had opened up on a fighter's face. Three matches that night and what had been a passing fancy for me became a life long obssesion. I actually WATCH classic boxing matches on ESPN. I have rented PPV boxing matches. The sport's had it's ups and downs, but all sports do, Baseball is juiced for god's sake, who needs to juice to play baseball? Recently though, the sport seems to me to be getting it's act together. It's clean, well ref'd and the fighters seem for the most part evenly matched by the time they hit HBO.
I love boxing. Hard core real boxing. The pure version (I do watch and enjoy UFC, but it's not the same). Not the dancing around the ring, tap, tap version. I can't stand these fights where it looks more like ballroom dancing than fighting. I like it when two people get in there and both actually want to win.
So last Saturday night on HBO when I saw two men battle in what seems to me to be not only the fight of the year, but the fight of the decade, I starting thinking about how much I enjoyed the fight for the pure brutality of it. Marquez v Barrera was actually fought on St. Pat's as most of us were hanging out attempting to give ourselves a good hangover, but aired last night on HBO.
Oh man! These two warriors traded blows like I haven't seen since the 70's and both stood their ground to the end. It had it's share of controversy, it was an all out bloody brawl that did not end until the very last moment. It was by far the most amazing battle I've seen in decades...and I LOVED IT.
I loved it so much, I'm ashamed that a brawl of that ma got me so excited. I get the Roman's. I get that the entire point of it (except the actual death of the athlete). As I lie in bed last Saturday, salivating at every brutal and well paced punch and counterpunch, it hit me, I am still a human animal in the depths of my id...we all are...