Catholic commentary on culture, media, and politics.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Legitimate sport or stylized sadism?

Is there a Christian defense of boxing? I've never seen one, and I suspect there is none. I know the "sport" allows poor and underpriviledged men to escape the barrio and the ghetto. And I know that auxiliary industries surrounding boxing (pay-per-view, TV rights, Las Vegas hotels, advertisers, the prize money itself, etc) create a fair amount of jobs. These results in themselves are good things. But it also attracts the gambling crowd, is notorious for corruption, and draws the kind of throng that differ, it seems to me, only in degree from the ancient Romans who cheered gladiators as they butchering each other to death.

Unlike other rough sports where injuries are not exactly rare (hockey, rugby, football) the whole point of boxing is to inflict harm. But no other professional sport to my knowledge is required to have a physician present? To injure is to advance. In fact, the more harm the better. A knock-out has much more cachet than a mere TKO (technical knock-out). The sport is riddled with brain injuries and longterm neurological problems. Every time a fighter steps through those ropes he knows that this could happen to him.

One pro-boxing publication alphabetizes -- and chillingly rhapsodizes -- the deaths of 26 young men who who died in the ring or after a severe beating.

Oh, did I mention I enjoy watching a good boxing match? My dad was a true-blue Muhammad Ali fan and I grew up watching professional matches with him (my dad, not Mr. Ali) in the Halifax Forum. I can still remember the salt taste of peanuts in the shell, the clear ding ding of the bell, and the atmosphere of fear and excitement as the fighters' names were announced in by tuxedoed men. I'm conflicted, I admit it. I believe boxing is immoral. It's glorified human cockfighting dolled up to look presentable. But do ya think I can manage to channel surf away if a match comes on TV? Forget it. I love the fights!

When it comes to boxing, just call me the Romans 7 Man.


Blogger Patrick said...

They can add another name to the list. Fecking idots.

11:55 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

PDP? Is that you? Do you mean you're becoming a boxer? You've been while killed boxing? You've KO'ed your blog? Please advise.

7:41 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Defense of Boxing? I heard some sports announcer say when judging boxing do not use as the model such as Tyson, but the featherweights. That there is an art to box an opponent. It is part of the Olympics.
If you have seen that 40's movie the Bells of St Mary, Bing Crosby, Father O'Malley is very supportive of a young boy who can box vs. a youngster tutored by the nun in non violence. The point was self defense, discipline and something in being a man. Not politicly correct but the idea of protecting oneself was not considered a negative at that time.

12:36 PM

Anonymous Patrick said...


You're conflating a few things. First, featherweights differ from heavyweights only in that their ectomorphic bodies and stick-like arms prevent them from doing serious damage to their opponent.

Since they're not hugging but punching -- hard -- their intention to harm seems identical regardless of weight class.

Second, I'm not certain if The Bells of St. Mary's is the same thing as formal Catholic teaching. I'm not opposed to self-defense, nor even to martial arts properly executed. We're getting far afield now: I'm talking about professional boxing. I'm even distinguising Olympic or amateur boxing (which uphold different standards of judging and full protective gear) from the brand I'm talking about.

1:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bells of Saint Mary was during 1940's and I imagine it was what the culture was pondering at the time, justification of WWII. Boxing was used for military training in World War I. Catholic doctrine as far as I have ever heard never conflicted with training in the military.

11:30 AM

Anonymous Patrick said...

Come come, anon. Why dost thou persist in thy conflations? The young boys in The Bells of St. Mary's were clearly not US military recruits. Show me where I said that military training conflicts with Catholic doctrine. I did say that I agree with legitimate self-defence -- including "boxing" if you think that form of self-defense will do the trick.

12:26 PM

Blogger Patrick said...

For the record: It was Sr. Mary Benedict who purchased the book on "pugilistics" at the sporting goods store. She briefly swung the old basebal bat at the store as as well. Come on people! You call yourself Catholic!?

11:58 PM


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