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Thursday, 31 May 2012 16:22

Boxing: the bad boy sport

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Graham Griffiths: Controversy will probably always be a big part of the sport of boxing, which is often criticised for glorifying senseless violence.

Say what you will about the ‘sweet science’, but ever since its inception (as we know boxing today) at the turn of the 20th century, boxing has been a prominent feature of humanity’s history; one we seem to forget more easily than remember.


The successful career of Jack Johnson, the first ever black world heavyweight boxing champion during the 1900s, revealed and challenged the deeply rooted and overwhelming racism of the time.

The Cinderella Man, James J. Braddock, who won the world heavyweight championship in 1935, arguably became the ultimate underdog in boxing when he gave hope to millions of struggling Americans, like himself, to make ends meet during the Great Depression.  Also in the 30s the Max Schmeling versus Joe Louis bouts, which many felt represented the Nazi Germany versus the so-called “Free World” battles of the time.

The contradictory nature of boxing demonstrates the savage, the sometimes merciful, the deplorable and the gracious elements of humanity. Boxing has a beautiful combination of grace and brutality, art and fury, malice and compassion  in a fair and consented duel between two equals.

But the recent conduct of some of the world’s most prominent boxing combatants has shed a vulgar and jaded light on the sport: popular boxing heavyweight boxer Floyd Mayweather soon to begin serving a prison sentence for domestic violence.

Former Olympic silver medalist, IBF and WBA light-welterweight world champion Amir Khan was scheduled for a rematch against Lamont Peterson, who stripped Kahn of his titles under endlessly controversial scenes in Washington earlier in the year. However, Peterson was recently found guilty of doping on a banned steroid-related substance prior to that fateful fight. He has since been stripped of his titles and license. Talking to The Independent, Amir gave his thoughts: “… My head was all over the place, I really, really wanted to win my titles back and have the fight. But the truth’s come out now and it just proves that Lamont Peterson was a cheat really.”

Throwing more mud in the face of boxing is the infantile but smouldering rivalry between British heavyweights David Haye and Dereck Chisora. Each had lost their last fights against one of the Tsars of heavyweight boxing: Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko. After a scuffle at a press conference, the two are likely to fight, this being against the authority of the British Boxing Board of Control. The fight is scheduled to take place on July 12.

Amongst all the anarchy, there are a few fighters doing their jobs properly. Mayweather remains undefeated as he won a close but unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto on May 5.

Another highly anticipated fight isto take place between the undefeated WBO light-welterweight Champion Timothy Bradley, against the legendary WBO welterweight Champion, Manny Pacquiao on June 9. Let’s hope for an explosive uncontroversial fight.

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