The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential

It’s brutal

“It’s going to be an honour to fight for you guys on Saturday night and you will not go home disappointed,” said boxer Ricky Hatton. He was up against a Filipino named Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand Las Vegas.

The brutality of a fight that lasted a mere 5 minutes and 59 seconds stunned most of the 20,000+ British fans who had traveled all the way to watch their man. The Filipino threw 53 power shots in the second round alone and landed with 34 of them, leaving Hatton sprawled on his back in the ring.

pacquiao-versus-hatton

The boxing world hailed a new champion

I have heard and read about the exploits of a man who, during his prime, claimed that he was The Greatest – once upon a time, Muhammad Ali could “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”, but suffers from Parkinson’s disease today, a condition almost definitely aggravated by his boxing career.

I have read about Rocky Marciano who never lost a fight during his entire career.

And I have read about a thuggish lout named Mike Tyson who, apart from battering opponents in a boxing ring, dished out more of the stuff outside of it, too.

Boxing is a sport that has often left me struggling for answers to a fundamental question. What is it that attracts people to watch two men beating the daylights out of one another? It is some kind of primeval, sadistic, fascination for watching a pummeling? Is it a milder form of the blood-sports of ancient times?

It is one of few sports where success is determined primarily by the physical punishment inflicted by a competitor on his opponent. The rules of the sport dictate that you are allowed to hit your opponent only in areas above the waist. But, is beating your opponent senseless with your fists, rendering him unconscious, or inflicting injuries such as broken ribs, bleeding and swollen faces and eventually, scrambled brains, really a “sport”?

The chances are that a boxer gets hit so many times on his body and, particularly, his face, that it could lead to cumulative and permanent brain damage, and even death.

There are numerous cases in which a boxer has died in the ring or shortly after a fight as a result of injuries sustained in the ring. They include Gerald Mclellan, Jimmy Doyle, Duk-Koo Kim (both the referee who officiated the match and Kim’s mother committed suicide in the aftermath), and female boxer Becky Zerlentes. The Journal of Combative Sport reports that more than 1400 boxers have died as a result of fighting injuries.

It is a dangerous sport.

Fans of boxing will argue that motor racing is potentially more dangerous, and quote examples such as the death of Formula1 driver Ayrton Senna on the racetrack. A cricket ball hurled from 22 yards at 150 kilometres an hour does not take long to slam into a batsman’s head if he is not watchful enough, and can cause death (remember Raman Lamba?, some years ago?). Other sports such football and hockey, can be dangerous.

But, injury in these sports is incidental – it is not the prime objective.

In its magazine issue dated 14th July 1997, Newsweek said, “Had Tyson bashed Holyfield’s brains in, he’d be judged a great champ, not a beast.”

I guess it is a matter of how you look it.

I will always question it, though.

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May 5, 2009 - Posted by | About this and that, Other Sport | , , ,

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