With the recent news that WBA President Gilberto Mendoza has announced the formation of a seven man tournament in order to determine one true heavyweight champion, and with plans to have only one WBA champion per division, it got me thinking about when and where I fell in love with boxing.
As a 13 year old schoolboy with little direction in life, I found my calling by walking through those gym doors for the first time.
The sounds were the first thing to hit me, the punch bags been hit and made to dance in the air, the chains rattling, the skipping ropes swishing around at the speed of light, the speed balls blurring and beating out a drum roll like sound, the shrieks of training shoes skidding on the wooden floor with coaches screaming instructions, all a fantastic symphony, an almost boxing requiem of sound.
It was music to my ears, the most wonderful sounds I’d ever heard.
Then the smell hit me! Oh my, it was quite intoxicating. I was almost in a trance, no, I was in a trance. I knew instantly what I wanted to be – a boxer.
My mother must have sensed my first true love of any sport at the time and bought me my first (of many) books on The History Of Boxing, for me never to put it down.
I couldn’t stop reading and re-reading it seemed for weeks on end. The old timers were my favourites, pre-1960’s fighters are the ones that really got my attention. I was in total awe of the toughness these warriors displayed.
Even when it looked like they were done for, they would somehow muster up super human strength as if there life depended on it. As it probably did.
They seemed to abandon any concern for their health and all that mattered was the battle to be the best fighter they possibly could. Broken bones, ripped up faces, lost teeth, all mattered little. They just carried on regardless, somehow.
It wasn’t until I was a little older that I understand why these super humans could do these marvelous things, money. Or rather, the lack of it.
Especially during the Great Depression. If they didn’t put these unbelievable displays of courage on they wouldn’t of been put on the bill the week after, and sometimes the very next night.
Middleweight Champion Tony Zale claimed that he fought professionally 5 nights a week when he first started out just so his family could eat everyday and if he didn’t put it all on the line, he wouldn’t have been matched the next night (needless to say he didn’t have to train in those times – he was “match fit”).
How could you not give your all in those circumstances? The big money would come when you got your title shot.
Jack Dempsey famously fought with no food in his stomach for days. And the only way to put food in his stomach was…….to fight!
(A tribute to Jack Dempsey – hat tip to rainy day for the upload):
Nowadays the money comes all too easy by comparison, in fact it’s literally thrown at the amateur starlets coming through to the paid ranks, and that’s the reason I believe why boxing could be in decline (in my opinion).
The stars of today haven’t got to prove how good or tough they are before they make the “big time” money. They’ll never have to go hungry.
Pampered from the first day they turn pro in some cases living a champion’s life of cars and plenty of spare cash, without having to prove anything.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they shouldn’t be rewarded for their efforts but I believe that there should be a system of some sort for making the money.
Maybe a handicap system could work. The handicap being, the better and more dangerous opponents you face the more percentage you get from the promotion.
The least dangerous opponents you face the lesser percentage but, the lesser opponents who have no chance of winning will get a better payday also for being matched with a superior fighter.
And maybe a bonus system also for let’s say, throwing over a certain amount of punches per round and a KO bonus too. If there’s more or less money to be made depending on what risk they’re actually willing to take, then I think boxing could return to better times.
What other answer is there? Another Great Depression? Hopefully not. But maybe that is the only way to stop this, in my opinion, decline of boxing producing the ultimate warriors.
But for now I’ll settle on the hope that the WBA’s decision to try and make a positive change in boxing sets off a trend by the other governing bodies, before it’s too late.
Boxing must change.
The post How Boxing Has Changed Over The Years appeared first on %%Boxing News and Views/%%.