There once was a time when I would glue myself to the TV set when professional boxing was on the air.
That was a long time ago. Quite obviously, I was much younger. I didn’t appreciate fully a brutal aspect of the sport I loved to watch: the men who fought inflicted terrible damage to the other guy’s brain; and they received equal amounts of terrible damage from the other guy’s fists.
That was then.
So many of the athletes I used to watch — some of whom I admired, truth be told — now are gone. They fell victim to pugilistic dementia, which is another way say they had their brains scrambled.
Fighters aren’t suffering such punishment more frequently these days. I am just older now, perhaps a bit wiser (which often is merely a benefit of growing old) and also I am less bloodthirsty than I was as a kid.
I’ll spare you the gripes I have about boxing’s governing bodies and how the sport has morphed into a sort of “participation trophy” of sports. That is, there are more “world champions” at every weight class than I can count. There once was a time when the heavyweight champion of the world was the baddest man on Earth; Muhammad Ali didn’t have to brag about being “bad” … he just was.
But I no longer can stomach the sight of two grown men beating other’s brains’ out.
I no longer watch videos of some of my favorite pro fighters from back in the day. I can barely watch fights of The Greatest — Muhammad Ali — knowing what became of him as he grew older. Yes, he died of Parkinson’s disease and reportedly did not lose any cognitive ability, but I do believe his fatal ailment was accelerated by the punishment he took at the end of his career.
Boxing once was a thrill to watch. These days, it gives me the creeps.