Boxing Warriors Part One
Boxing and the warriors we call Boxers.
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I don’t cry. I don’t even remember getting teary eyed since I was a young child. I don’t know the reasoning behind it, maybe because after being in the military for 10 years and two combat tours I found a way to emotionally disconnect. In 2005, knee deep in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars I was working for the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense. All those secret bunkers and underground laboratories we see in movies…..are all true, I’ve been there. My first day on that assignment I was badged into a back room and the first thing I saw was a classic scientist, with his lab coat and beaker pushing cart, which is nothing unusual, until I saw the contents of the cart. Right there in front of me were about a dozen mice with their craniums sawed across and their little brains exposed. Protruding from the side of their brain was a computer board. Still vividly in my mind….. I digress, that is a story for another day and it will lead up to where I currently work now (Nuerocognitive Research Center for the Department of Defense). During my assignment there, I was specially selected to perform a detail, a duty and honor I hold dear to my heart today. Funeral Detail for the deceased service members our current day military warriors, from the conflicts overseas. Hearing Taps, even today, brings chills down my spine, mainly because I saw the hurt and anguish of the parents….siblings…children….wives of the deceased. It is one of the most unnatural acts a parent or loved one can do, which is bury their son or daughter. After ceremoniously folding the flag I remember dropping down to one knee and looking at this service members mother directly in her eyes… red with anguish, hurt and fear….the long side of the flag facing her, I extended my arms, flag sandwiched between my palms I could feel the three shell casings we placed in prior, the stars of the flag facing upwards representing our National Motto, “In God We Trust”. Her eyes pierced mine, searching for what she had lost…..for that brief moment we were connected, and I felt her anger, her rage, he was only 20 years old, not even old enough to drink…..as a parent her worst case scenario was playing out in front of her eyes and it was me….on one knee…presenting the Flag of the United States of America. As she reaches out to gain possession of her sons services to our country it becomes my cue….”On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Army, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.” Our eyes still locked, still connected I can feel the reminiscent of her closure…although far from closing…I stand straight at attention and render a final…slow salute. At that moment it is just us, although we are surrounded with family and loved ones…the tears and crying muffled by this long standing tradition. I drop my salute and at that moment our eye contact is broken and her heart continues the mourning. I march slowly back to the rest of the funeral detail and finish the proceedings. Heading back to headquarters we look at the schedule for the next day, week and month. A funeral almost everyday up and down the east coast for the next 90 days. Each went exactly the same and each stung just as deep. I bring this story up because our service members are warriors, they sign up for college or money for their families, but with the acknowledgement that they may die in battle. .
What does this have to do with boxing? Good question…a lot. Boxers fight for the same thing our service members fight for, our families, ourselves, and with the Olympic Boxing Team overseas, our Country. Some box because that is where they feel comfortable, in the gym and in the ring. Others step into the ring because that is how they feed their family, but whatever the reasoning is, they are warriors. Every time they set foot into that ring they are on the battle field and like any battle field on earth, they know the risk of losing their life. Countless have died in the name of Boxing. That is why I feel the fight between Adrien Broner and Vicente Escobedo was a disgrace. It was a disgrace to boxers, boxing, and boxing fans. As amazing a talent as Adrien Broner is, he practically shot the middle finger to every boxer who has suffered to make weight before him and the Nevada State Athletic Commission. He already had the speed, size and talent advantage over Escobedo, now throw in the fact he didn’t make the 130lb limit and the fight was lost even before it started, and the Nevada State Athletic Commission let it happen. I will give him credit for looking spectacular, but how much credit is deserved after not following the rules, practically cheating when he did not have to. If you acknowledge the fact that your body is getting too big for a weight division, don’t fight in that division. Too easy.
Boxing is alive because of the fans and is nowhere being dead. We keep boxing alive. No matter how much momentum the UFC or mixed martial arts gets, they will always be the little brother to boxing. So for everyone who likes to say boxing is dead, the mere fact that boxing is being uttered is a testament to how alive it is. These warriors who go to work every week have a duty but we also have a duty as well. Who is the oversight to make sure a fighter gets a fair shake when it comes to weight? Performance Enhancing Drugs? Plaster in the gloves? Who determines what a fair fight is? You can make a point for the Athletic Commision or promoters, or the contract, but there are too many variables and no one enforcing any rules. We the fans are quick to complain about Boxing and what needs to be changed, but there is no action behind it. It just becomes good conversation, and then we see the same things happening over and over again. Over the next few weeks I will be writing about how we can empower ourselves, empower our Boxing Warriors, and wrestle against the old way of doing things. Just because that is the way it has always been done surely does not mean it is the best way of doing things. Empowerment.
THE STANDING 8
· 1. Boxing Art- When I first saw her artwork, my jaw literally dropped. Take a look for yourself and visit her page at http://amanda-kelley.tumblr.com