Thursday, October 25, 2007

Like to Fight?: Check out The Chicago Tribune Article on Boxing

Read the following article about the boxing which appeared today in the Chicago Tribune:

"These days boxing seems so ...

What's the word? Old-fashioned?

Maybe that's why the spectacle Monday of all those exuberant young boxers from around the world parading down State Street and clicking cell-phone photos in the Chicago Theatre seemed so ...

What's the word? Quaint?

If you've been paying attention to the news, you know that a bevy of amateur boxers from such places as Belarus, Albania, Uganda and Wales has descended upon Chicago out of the blue for an event I'd wager most of us have never heard of, the AIBA World Boxing Championships.

There was once a time when even the average American sports dunce knew something about boxing. Anybody could name Joe Louis, Sonny Liston, Muhammad Ali and George Foreman before he had a grill. You could have a sports IQ of zero and still know about Mike Tyson biting off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear.

But boxing times have changed. Quick: Who's the current heavyweight champion of the world?

It's a question that people in a different era would have had the answer to in their top mental drawer.

"The current champ?" said my favorite parking lot security guard, Anthony. "I haven't watched boxing in a while." He kept rummaging through his mind. "The champion, right? I'm a little offbeat on the champions."

"The champion right now?" said my twentysomething sports-nut friend Michael. "I don't know. But going back ..."

No need to go back. The point is made. To many an average American, boxing is a blast from the past.

"Cinderella Man" might be a 2005 movie, but in it Russell Crowe plays a 1930s boxer. By 2006 when Sylvester Stallone reprised his most famous role in "Rocky Balboa," big-time boxing seemed as passe as the idea of Stallone as a sex symbol.

Here in the new millenium, a boxer -- Floyd "Pretty Boy" Mayweather -- has to go on "Dancing with the Stars" with the likes of Marie Osmond to get the public's full attention. (He was, incidentally, recently booted off the show.)

"Most of the big boxing shows go to Las Vegas now where they hook up with casinos," said my former colleague Michael Hirsley when I called to ask about boxing past and present. Michael's working this week as a consultant and press officer for the World Boxing Championships.

Casino owners offer boxing matches as perks to big-spending gamblers, he said. Money flows all around. Chicago was once a boxing hub but now, outside Las Vegas, most of the big boxing matches are in Mexico or Europe. And Chicago boxing fans tend to be Hispanic or Eastern European.

It's as easy to demonize boxing as it is to romanticize it. Boxing can be brutal in a way that makes football look like a fox trot.

But it has long been a means for poor kids to work their way up in the world, and for immigrants to make their place. A century ago, in Chicago and elsewhere, young boxers were often Irish, Jewish and Italian. African-Americans became prominent in the sport. Now it's newer immigrants or, as this week's World Boxing Championships suggests, people from parts of the world where boxing can still be a ticket up and out.

Whatever you think of boxing, it's moving to see how excited the boxers of the world are to be in Chicago.

Even if a lot of Chicagoans don't know that there are four current heavyweight world champions, none of them American."




ChronicBoxing fights back, though. Here's the email and post I sent to the Chicago Tribune: You do make some good points but overall I don't agree with you. Boxing suffers from its own excesses and from the splintering of the market into PPV, HBO, SHOBOX, ESPN, and many different boxing organizations,each of which has a "title" but none are the undisputed title held by Muhammad Ali. Let me share my humble opinions:

1) Check out Cotto-Mosely and Mayweather-Hatton. Look at the numbers when those fights take place.

2) Read about a currently filming movie about Micky Ward and starring Brad Pitt and Mark Wahlberg. You can read about that in one of my own "articles" at


http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/410073/the_fighter_stars_mark_wahlberg_and.html


Your parking lot attendant is not a good source for real boxing news. Passions are high among real boxing fans who are even more fanatical. Ricky Hatton (from England) recently got 7,000 people to book flights to America for his last match at Madison Square Garden with aging Jose Luis Castillo.

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