I attribute my passion for boxing to my love of history, statistics and quantitative research. The sport is global and is driven by multiple economies and networks so one must always exercise due diligence to be up to date. It’s also driven by the fighters who compete in it. A fighter’s ability to overcome opponent’s defense, strength and style serves as a testament to his commitment and desire to win. In a way, boxing reflects my competitive nature and determination to strive for the best solutions. My knowledge and activity both online and on social media attracted the attention of world title organizations where I had the privilege to travel across the world to cover world title fights (Azerbaijan, Mexico, Ukraine and counting) and seminars that ranged from discussing boxing rankings, officiating for world title fights, to more sensitive issues such as organizations’ efforts in working with athletic commissions to sanction competitive matches, drug testing and concussion protocol.
Boxing is not like other sports in that athleticism isn’t always rewarded. In the general sports ethos, there is always a raging debate as to how current athletes would fair in previous eras or vice-versa. In an age where people are getting bigger, faster and stronger in most sports, boxing remains resolutely unbowed. Weight classes generally offset them and the mystique of knockout power which isn’t distributed equally among fighters can override conditioning and other technical deficiencies. Journalist Max Kellerman once commented that if sports were a metaphor for an imposition of will. Boxing is the lone aberration in that it takes the metaphor completely out of the equation. Under the bright lights and in the squared circle, fighters not only have something to prove, but they also feel like they have something showcase: their lives and life stories. It’s the raw, palpable sense of intimacy that creates this engaging, figurative push and pull with fans to match the literal pushes and pulls in the ring. Fans witness a fierce journey that only a coterie of fighters are able to endure. The skill and deliverance can be as artistic as it is brutal. The literal imposition of will is overwhelming and cannot but imbue the minds of fans with a sense of awe and profound respect. Fighters put their lives on the line and have essentially left a piece of themselves in the ring and shared it with the fans. That’s the imprint of an indelible experience and the mark of any good art.
To most, sports is the closest profession one will ever see that resembles a meritocracy. As one often envisions a natural progression prospect to contender and then to champion, it’s often never a clear path to title contention. Some will achieve lofty heights and to the victor go the spoils. Some will merely attain gatekeeper or journeyman status just vying for another payday. Some will see their fate fall under the purview of judges who might have a differing opinion of their performance. Some might be plagued with managerial and promotional issues, suffering the maudlin rumination of what-if and what might have been. As legendary trainer Ray Arcel so eloquently put: “The important part of boxing is not that youngsters realize their dreams, but that they can dream,” he said. “Every day in the gym they’re something special. They’re a fighter.” Boxing mirrors the hardships and successes of life. Burnished and blemished records do not tell the entire story. It’s incumbent upon us to develop rapport and cultivate relationships with the powers that be to vie for opportunities, and to prove to them and oneself they’re worth the effort. There will be moments where it seems everything is running seamlessly and suddenly something new knocks you down. There will be trials and tribulations where you will be judged and feel that the end result is unjust, and the ensuing criticism is not fair. Times where the anything and everything is not enough. And yet, we keep getting up. It’s our life story. We can call it our own. It shows the indominable spirit necessary to withstand all adversity and that the most important things in one’s life are worth fighting for. Keep punching.