Theater of the Unexpected
Long time boxing analyst Larry Merchant often referred to the sport of professional boxing as the “theater of the unexpected.” My experiences in the sport have led me to the conclusion that his analogy is spot on.
The sport of boxing can take those emotionally invested on a series of highs and lows like no other. What other sport can fortunes change so substantially in a split second? Any long time fight fan can recall a fight where one punch quickly clutched victory away from the jaws of defeat.
I could write for days on my own entry and involvement in the sport. Like so many others, it is unique and many of the memories are as vivid as the day they occurred. Perhaps, I’ll detail some of these adventures specifically in the near future.
However, as I attempt to write creatively for the first time in nearly two years, I feel obligated to provide the reader with a brief glimpse of the sport from an insider’s perspective. While all those involved in the sport here in the Upper Midwest have their fair share of opinions on the sport, a few constants remain.
First and foremost, those punches are real. Young men, and even some young women, take blows to the head for the entertainment of others. Most of the time, they do so for a purse that is neither life changing nor substantial for their long-term future. Whether or not you understand their reasons for doing so, their courage should be commended. There are no true “bums” in the sport. There are just different levels of determination and skill set.
The people who work behind the scenes to keep the sport prospering do so with little to no financial reward, and often at the risk of their own financial health. I’m not sure that the casual, and even diehard fans, have a true understanding of this. My hope is that the fans in this region leave shows with an appreciation for all of the hard work it takes to run a professional boxing event, particularly a successful one. Some of the smallest details can often make or break a show.
The culture of professional boxing is truly unique. Allegiances can shift instantly. Enemies suddenly become the best of friends. The fluidity of it all can become mind boggling. However, at the end of the day, most involved all share the same goal, which is advancement of the sport. The staples of the local scene remain involved due to their passion for the sport and the hopes that their contributions to it help it thrive.
While I have personally been removed from the professional scene for over five years, I can honestly say that my brief involvement in the sport of boxing is among the fondest memories of my life. I formed friendships that will last for the rest of my life. I learned life lessons and traveled to parts of the country I never knew existed. There is a certain brotherhood that exists that is difficult to describe or understand. I can go to a show and see individuals I haven’t seen or talked to in years, and we don’t skip a beat. The continued camaraderie is what keeps me coming to the shows and maintaining contact with all of my old friends still in the sport.
There is an old cliché that the sport of boxing “is dead.” Every time I hear this ridiculous phrase I become insulted. Some people have a tendency to criticize that to which they don’t understand. My response to these critics is that they aren’t watching the right fights. If you judge the sport based solely on pay-per-views and the dismal state of the heavyweight division, you are missing out. There is a plethora of outstanding fights broadcast on a variety of networks, as well as a solid professional scene locally. Boxing is very well and alive, my friends.