• Bill Chastain

TOYS AND GAMES: In Defense of the Sweet Science?

Never did I think I would find myself defending boxing.

Boxing gloves “Arash-Hashemi-boxer-the-final-round-next-day-paint-and-body” by Imagemanagement05 – Own work.

During the 1980s, I covered the sport for approximately three years. That experience gave me an unvarnished, behind-the-scenes look at the “sweet science” I never found so sweet. I saw too many painful stories, too much manipulation, and there were suspect decisions.

One night I sat ringside next to the three judges during a particularly gritty middleweight battle that saw Lester “The Molester” Hayes bloody John “Pork Chop” Pugh’s face. When I returned home, Patti looked at me funny then asked: “What happened?”

Turned out a bloody spray had covered the blue button-down shirt I was wearing and I’d never noticed.

A microcosm of the sport came another night when I covered a card shown on USA Network. After each fight on the under card, I went to the dressing rooms to interview the fighters. That’s when I noticed that they were passing along the same pair of white silk trunks with black piping from the just-finished fighter to the next fighter to wear in the ring. Didn’t matter that the trunks were soaked with sweat.

Mostly, the unnecessary violent nature of boxing turned me off to the sport.

However, watching mixed martial arts — and I haven’t watched much — I’ve found myself talking up the lesser of the two evils. Boxing has some semblance of order. The idea is present that a boxing match will be stopped if one contestant has rendered the other helpless, and, yes, I’m aware there countless examples when that hasn’t been the case.

In deference to boxing, anything goes with mixed martial arts, which I don’t understand. Does anybody really want to see somebody get killed in the ring? Next, I don’t get the attraction of watching one guy laying on top of another guy pounding him in the head. At least in boxing there is a form of athleticism on display, which was the case watching a young Cassius Clay dance and flick his jab inside the ring. Mixed martial arts brings only senseless violence in my opinion. I just don’t get the sport’s popularity.

Give me boxing any day.


©2020 by Bill Chastain. Photo credits: Jill Doty Photography