Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.
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Monday 20 February 2012

Boxing, (n.): the act of fighting with fists.

TWO blokes stand up and knock the crap out of each other. People gather to watch, and money changes hands about who will win the fight. Pictures are taken, cameras roll, and blood is spilled.

If you see it, do you call the police or stay to watch the sport? Because according to events in Germany yesterday the above scene is perfectly safe and reasonable - as long as it is roped off.

Now, I understand the copy of your average sports reporter about as well as I do Japanese or algebra, so it's taken me a while to wade through the first-person outrage and dramatic colour in all of today's papers about 'controversy' and 'dark day for our noblest sport' blah-blah.

But, fundamentally, what happened is that several men got involved in what is known as 'a brawl'. First one bloke spat in another bloke's face, then (after fighting him officially, and losing) marched up to another bloke at  press conference prompting what tabloids might in other circumstances call 'a fracas'. Blokes went toe-to-toe, threats were made, bloke swung punch with hand holding bottle, bloke's mates got involved, bloke started brandishing a camera tripod and smacked his own mate on the noggin.

It's none of it brilliant behaviour, but no-one died, no-one was seriously injured, and it's the kind of stupid willy-waving by idiots I've heard in a thousand court cases and seen first-hand on nights out. The main difference with these events is that normally they are fuelled by alcohol, and in this instance it seems to have been precipitated by those two consistent partners-in-crime, testosterone and stupidity.

Now it seems that because the men in question weren't drunk, it wasn't 3am and there wasn't a girl involved, the police want to question everyone and press some charges. After all, we can't have that, can we?

Except all the blokes involved are fighters. They've been trained, over decades, to be bigger and more powerful than the other bloke and to smack him around according to a set of rules in order that people can make millions of pounds and have the thrill of watching blood be spilled. Is it really a surprise to anyone that fighters are a bit fighty?

I can't help thinking that half the outrage is from sports reporters who were sat in that press conference and suddenly realised that the two blokes they watch and comment on in the ring are REALLY big and REALLY close and REALLY annoyed. Once they got over the squealy terror, they've all started harrumphing about what a shameful day it is for the sport.

Then there's the likes of those who call boxing a gentleman's pastime, who think everyone involved loves their mum, sets an example to children, follow Marquess of Queensberry rules and give the other feller a fightin' chance, doncherknow.

Perhaps once upon a time. But it's always been about money, blood, and power, and smacking the hell out of someone who's got in the ring because he wants some of yours. It's one of the least sporting sports there is, because it doesn't leave much room for luck or plucky underdogs. And it's never going to be much different to two guys knocking ten bells out of each other in a pub car park; it's just we've taken those men, fed them up and taught them how to do it properly.

It seems bizarre to me that we're fine with gladiators in the Coliseum, but seriously expect them to play together like nice boys on the bus home.

And it's more than a shade hypocritical that punching someone behind a rope while millions bay for blood, drink beer and gamble on the outcome is socially acceptable, while landing a smack when no-one had the chance to put a bet on it first is considered a crime.

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