By Michael Bailey
What makes boxing such a popular sport? Yes too many blows to the head can cause brain damage and that is a scientific fact, but boxing still has millions of fans around the world. Do us fans ever sit back and wonder to ourselves why we enjoy watching and taking part in the ‘sweet science’ or the ‘noble art’? I find it very peculiar how anybody couldn’t enjoy boxing as it is surely one of the most exciting sports. Muhammad Ali vs Joe Frazier in the ‘Thriller in Manilla’, with its constant changing in who is in charge of the bout changed.
‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler vs Thomas Hearns: Three rounds of lightning fast action with both men swapping blows in the blink of an eye. Jack Dempsey vs Luis Angel Firpo: The ‘Manassa Mauler’ being punched out of the ring only to come back while 56,000 fans roared on in the modern version of an Ancient Rome Colosseum battle. These three bouts are only an extremely relative few bouts that are heart pumping, exciting bouts that has all the action that any other sport can only wish to get close to.
Along with the above exciting bouts, what about the wonderful characters of boxing: Tiger Flowers with his pet Lion, Archie Moore and his special Aboriginal diet, Tony Galento with his lovely version of the English language. These boxers sound like characters from a comedy movie, yet their larger than life personalities are alive in these men who added numerous newspaper column inches to reporters. If you look in any history of boxing books, larger than life characters bounce of every single page.
Boxing also has the habit of being ahead of the worlds societies when it comes to a number of pressing issues. Daniel Mendoza rose to fight for the Bare-Knuckle championship of England at a time when people who adhered to the Jewish faith weren’t even recognized as citizens in even the most liberal of countries. Jack Johnson and Jersey Joe Walcott became world champions at a time of immense prejudice against black citizens of most countries. Even though woman boxers are still much ignored in boxing on account of smaller purses and advertising than their male counterparts, Barbara Enlistment still became a boxer in the 1950’s, an era when females were given much less rights than men.
Despite boxing no longer able to be king of the sports pages on account of national past times like Association and US Football, Baseball and even Cricket, the ‘Sweet Science’ will always be a popular spectator and watched sport. Despite some people saying that no generation will ever come close to the golden eras of the 1950s-70s, boxing is not on its knees as numerous sell out shows will a test to. Wladimir Klitschko, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao each draw massive crowds just like the forefathers Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Robinson and Jack Dempsey did in their respective errors.
The next time you hear somebody or read somewhere that boxing is a dying sport waiting for a funeral, then remind yourself that all other sports can only wish to have the pure breakneck excitement that boxing has.