The Sport of Thugs?

It’s been a bad week for boxing, but then again, boxing is bad for the weak. It’s bad for the weak of heart, bad for the weak of stomach and bad for the weak of corpus. Before I write another word, I need to express my sadness that Irish boxer Darren Sutherland recently felt he had no choice but to take his own life. As someone who clawed her way back from the brink of suicide, I know how bad that choicelessness feels. I also want to express sympathy to Bernard Dunne that he  is no longer a world champion. Losing your title must be crushing.

I really have to question, though, a ‘sport’ where the stated object of the exercise is to render your opponent senseless.

Of course I’ve heard the arguments for boxing; that it channels aggression; that fighting in the ring with rules is much better than fighting on the street without; that it’s a way out of poverty for some; that it teaches discipline and promotes fitness. That’s all grand, but boxing is not the only way – or indeed the best way to achieve these goals. I really cannot find it in me to endorse a ‘sport’  that gives points only to ‘blows with force behind them’.

Is being punched in the head really anything any of us wants our children to excel at? Sure, I know there are those who might suggest that if I had boys I might feel different – that having only girls precludes me from understanding the positives of pugilism. I disagree. I have brothers (four of them) and nephews (six of them) and I would never, ever, ever, like to see any of them fight – either inside or outside a square ring.

On the other hand, I’m more than happy to watch them play tennis, skate, swim, run, jump, play GAA sports and even rugby. Heck! If one of them took up cricket, I’d watch them play that, too.

Every sport has its own inherent dangers – but a sport where danger is the sport, can that be called a sport at all?