Boxing is just about the only professional sport I pay attention to.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy watching sports, I simply haven’t devoted as much time to appreciating and learning the subtleties of them as I have in the case of boxing.
The first time I can remember seeing boxing, was when I was really young, maybe 5 years old.
My parents were watching the end of Rocky III on TV, and I walked into the room (past my bedtime) thinking it was a real fight.
After 3-4 cries of “Jesus,” my mom ushered me out of the room and told me to go to bed, but not before telling me to say “jeez” instead of “Jesus.”
Now that I think of it, that was kind of weird.
I remember going to church every now and again as a kid, but my parents never enforced any sort of religion in the house.
Oh well, my best guess is that, at that point in my life my parents hadn’t yet decided if I was going to be raised with a religion, so they didn’t want me taking the Lord’s name in vain just in case.
To this day, I have yet to establish any religious affiliations.
That fight also ranks as one of my favorite in AMERICAN film history, so it’s gonna’ get posted below for your enjoyment:
You see, this was back in the day when Pay-Per-Views came via a cable box, (which my home didn’t have until my brother started ordering WWF Pay-Per-Views) but the channels they aired on could still be accessed in “scrambled” format.
That’s right, my brother and my dad cared enough about boxing that they would plop down in front of the TV and watch a scrambled snowstorm just to get the live audio.
It was around this time that I came to realize that boxing meant something to my family, primarily my dad.
My dad loves all sports, don’t get me wrong; but boxing has always seemed to have a special place in his heart.
When I was little, and would sometimes sit in and watch the fights with him, he’d always amaze me with his ability to predict the outcomes of fights.
I didn’t know it then, but it turns out my pop had done a bit of boxing in his youth.
That’s not to say he was some retired legend of the ring or anything, but even so, he managed to do a few neat things during his time in the sport.
For instance, in his youth he competed in the Philadelphia Golden Gloves tournament, even going so far as to the reach the semi-finals.
He was eliminated by a young fighter named Willie “The Worm” Monroe, a man who would later go on to defeat middleweight legend, and easily one of my favorite fighters of all time; Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
Oh yeah, and get knocked the fuck out by Hagler a few years later.
Click below for vengeance by proxy:
While staying there, my dad was invited to participate in a friendly exhibition match with a local fighter.
Nobody told my dad who he was fighting before the match, but as it turns out, his opponent was Chartchai Chionoi.
The same Chartchai Chionoi that had been sitting on the world flyweight championship for a few years by the time my dad met him.
According to my dad, the fight really did play out as a friendly exhibition for the most part, with neither man getting hurt for the most part.
My dad always said he was just glad he on his feet the whole time and didn’t end up embarrassing himself.
He and Chartchai exchanged holiday cards every now and again for years after that.
According to my dad, Mr. Chionoi got kind of pudgy at one point, so my dad used to poke fun at him for it.
It was my dad’s love for/knowledge of boxing that drew me into it.
I always wanted an excuse to hang out with my dad and shoot the shit, and boxing was the venue I chose to do it from.
I spent my youth listening to the little fundamental tidbits my dad would throw out during the fights, and by the time I was in high school, I felt I knew the sport pretty well.
That’s one of the major differences between boxing and other sports for me.
I get boxing.
I didn’t really pay much attention to other sports as a kid, and as a result, I don’t know them as well.
It makes a huge difference, knowing what you’re looking at, and knowing “how” to appreciate it.
I don’t know the extent of my brother’s training in Japan, but I think he did it for the same reasons I wanted to:
To have something in common with dad, and to say that he “did it.”
Seeing as boxing was one of the few things I could really relate to my dad on, I was always envious of my brother for having that connection.
Unfortunately, I was not in the best of shape as a kid, and I always thought I’d never make it in a gym, so I never really tried.
As fate would have it, I found myself faced with a school project that required one to join a community and do what is called “appreciative inquiry,” I.E. giving and taking while never really implying that you’re overtly “taking.”
Yeah, I know, hippie-dippy-gobbledy-gook at it’s best, right?
Because the project was sprung on us with little notice, I took it upon myself to take advantage my my newly in-shape self, and I joined the local Police Athletic League to try my hand at boxing and do my project at the same time.
I had a lot of fun at the gym, in fact I still miss it to this day, largely because of all the time I got to spend helping out the little kids.
Not in THAT way, you perv.
At the gym, I was surprised to find that I was more than able to keep up with the training regimen, however my eyesight was a huge problem.
Let it be known, that people that wear contact lenses or glasses should never, ever consider pursuing boxing as anything more than a workout.
Don’t be an idiot like I was, you’ll be better for it.
In sparring, I never told my coach that I was wearing disposable contacts that would come out after getting hit about, oh, once.
As a result, I was blind for most of my sparring sessions, though I did alright anyway.
Never got hurt, anyway.
On my last day in the gym, when my class and the project attached to it ended and I was forced to get back to my normal schedule, I got my ass torn up by a new arrival at the gym.
The guy was about 17 years old, 2 inches taller and 10 pounds heavier than me, and had a few years experience under his belt.
All I had going for me was a thick skull and ridiculously big hair.
I got my face pounded in that night, and even though it was my last night there anyway, it truly felt like the world was telling me to get out of the ring.
Some of us are made to be fighters, some aren’t.
I can’t say which I am, but I will say this, starting out in boxing at 21 years of age is not the way to find out.
I never got a chance to fight in a real match, however I was scheduled for one, which I made weight for and everything.
At 152 lbs., there were a lot of other fighters vying for the same spot as me on the card, so I ended up getting pushed aside in favor of more experienced guys.
That match will always be a big “what if” I’ll have in the back of my head, but such is life.
These days I play armchair quarterback with my dad.
I prefer to watch fights alone, or with my dad; rowdy crowds tend to make me nervous on account of how they sensationalize the fight.
I’ve always said that, in boxing, I never applaud violence, (unless I HATE the guy getting his ass torn up) I’m just there to see what happens.
It’s for this reason that I also prefer to watch fights after they’ve already happened.
I don’t really care about being surprised, I just like sitting back and evaluating, and learning from the situation.
Boxing is a sport that encourages it’s fans to review it’s long and colorful history.
I have spent most of my life doing this, and for that reason I guess I’ve been conditioned to know what is coming ahead of time.
Some would call my preference blasphemy, however in my eyes, boxing is something I “appreciate” more than I care about “being there” for.
I’m not sure if I should thank my dad for getting me into a dieing sport that no one really seems to talk about these days, (try finding a boxing magazine among all the gun, bodybuilding and MMA ones, I dare you) but I will say this:
I am thankful for my father and everything he’s taught me in life.
Sure, I can’t ride a bike, but I can tell you the names of probably 80% of boxing’s hall of famers.
Life skills, that’s what dad’s are for.
Thanks dad, here’s to sittin’ around watching the fights together for the rest of our days.
Happy Father’s Day!