I read a powerfully moving boxing poem recently, and it made me wonder if I had anything to say about the sport. Not a lot, although I did participate in one boxing match in my life. It was for a Saint Vincent De Paul School fundraiser. I was in college and my basketball coach would have had a fit had he known I was participating. My opponent, who reminded me of cross between Rocky Marciano and Rocky Balboa, thrashed me for two rounds so badly that toward the final third round I kicked him in the groin and was disqualified. I never boxed again, unless one counts the times Rudy La Russo of the Lakers and I mixed it up, a common occurrence when our teams played each other. Elgin Baylor once said that no Warrior/Laker game officially began until Meschery and LaRusso fought. Ah, those glory days of fisticuffs.
I never gave fighting on the basketball court a second thought since my teammate on the Warriors was Al Attles, pound for pound, the meanest, toughest man in the game, who always had my back. Without him I could have been roadkill any number of times. I take this opportunity late in life to publicly thank him for saving me from being slaughtered by Zelmo Beatty. On the other hand, I didn't need much help with Darrell Imhoff.
I used to watch boxing, but not much anymore. Back then, there were fighters worth watching, pugilists such as the graceful Sugar Ray Robinson, Willy Pep, Rocky Marciano, Archie, the mongoose, Moore, the magnificent Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Roberto Duran. The last modern day fighter I watched was Oscar de la Hoya. If all boxers were as skillful as the two Sugar Rays and Archie Moore, and that wonderful Frenchman, Marcel Cerdan (I wonder how many people remember him?), I might still be watching the sport, but probably not. In my old age, I'm reluctant to witness the body and brain being battered when I know that nature and age are as relentless as any boxer.
Here's a poem about boxing honoring one of the sport's legends. I think it says everything about the terrible toll boxers pay on their way to uncertain glory.
On Hurricane Jackson by Allan Dugan
Now his nose's bridge is broken, one eye
will not focus and the other is astray;
trainers whisper in his mouth while one ear
listens to itself, clenched like a fist;
generally shadow-boxing in a smoky room,
his mind hides like the aching boys
who lost a contest in the Pan-Hellenic games
and had to take the back roads home,
but someone else, his perfect youth,
laureled in newsprint and dollar bills,
triumphs forever on the great white way
to the statistical Sparta of the champs.
What my musings are all about...
Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.
The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.
The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.