Rocky Where Are You?
by Ivette Ricco, President
June 3, 2001
It was a typical Friday night, in the year 1950
something, in the South Bronx.
My dad, my mom, my sisters, my cousins, my uncle,
and my aunt gathered around the TV to watch the Gillette
Cavalcade of Sports, and Friday Night Fights.
This was the golden age of boxing. With the likes
of Rocky Graziano, Kid Gavilan, Floyd Patterson, Emile
Griffith and Sugar Ray Robinson to watch and admire,
this young girl became a boxing fan. In later years
the fight game still had the wondrous talents of Muhammad
Ali, Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns
When you grow up in the inner city and your sports
and athletic world consists of dodge-ball, stick-ball,
Johnny on the Pony, and hand-ball in the schoolyard,
you are in serious awe of these powerful warriors.
I admired their speed, agility, and physical beauty.
In addition, within the Spanish-speaking community,
boxing is the equivalent of Nebraska football in Nebraska.
It is the most highly regarded of macho endeavors.
If you are like many, especially most women, boxing
seems like the most barbaric, brutal, and inhumane
sport on the planet. If you don't know what the training
regimen involves or what physical skills are necessary
to become a highly ranked boxer you would think these
guys were just dancing around for 10-12 rounds. Gee,
how hard can that be?
But, the combination of speed, skills, physical and
mental endurance, in a one on one confrontation is
unmatched in any sport. The drama of a championship
bout is possibly the most thrilling contest in the
world of sports.
But, here we are in the year 2001, and where have
all the heroes gone?
The fight game was never pretty. It was never what
one would call a squeaky clean sport. There have always
been nasty, sleazy, ugly, and corrupt people involved
this sport. The Queensbury rules, notwithstanding,
boxing has never enjoyed much of a reputation as the
prototype for sports integrity. The Olympics, long
regarded as the prime example of all that is good
and pure and beyond reproach in the world of sports,
has fallen victim to the temptation of the almighty
dollar. If corruption can rear its ugly head within
the inner sanctum of sports virtue, then what can
we expect from the boxing world? Sad isn't it.
The world of boxing has left a very bad taste
in the mouth of this boxing fan.
When Mike Tyson entered the ring and destroyed fighter
after fighter, the world of boxing, Don King, and
the rest of his cronies were just drooling over this
kid's power and inner rage. Now we know that "Iron
Mike" has personal demons more powerful than
"On the surface, people like Tyson attempt to
portray themselves as being nasty, tough, invincible,
and arrogant. Snarling at the press, demeaning of
opponents, showing no respect for the media or for
that matter anyone else. All a front." "Men
with Tyson's personality traits are often unable to
project the consequences of their actions or even
learn from them." Courtesy of PschologyofSports:
Iron Mike Tyson.
Scholarships are not handed out for boxing superiority
as they are for football or basketball. The boxing
ring is still one of the few places a poor kid can
use as a launching pad out of the ghetto and poverty.
In every metropolitan area of America they pound the
bags in the local P.A.L. gym. They work and dream
the "Rocky" dream. They dream about beating
the odds and becoming a world champion. They dream
about the money and the fame and the adulation. They
listen to those promoters who want to make a buck
off their broken bones, and broken noses. No one has
told them about the broken lives, and dreams that
line the halls of boxing-dom. No one has told them
that they will sacrifice their future for a quick
and elusive buck that will go into someone else's
pocket. But they dare to dream, and when you are living
in poverty, when your greatest accomplishment is making
the next rent payment, then the promise of a better
life, of a star's life is much too tempting to turn
Legislation may help the fight game's image.
Since World War II boxing has continued amid corruption,
chaos and controversy. Pay Per View fees, the confusing
and varied standards used by the three "sanctioned
organizations" the IBF, WBC and WBA, leave most
fight fans scratching their heads at the lunacy of
it all. Each organization with its own set of fighters
and titles. Each claiming the champion in each weight
classification. There are 17, count them, 17 distinct
Recently, Senator John McCain held hearings on boxing
reform. There is little doubt any change would be
a change for the better. The key to creating a climate
of legitimacy in boxing is the creation of a national
governing body. Let's start by installing a boxing
commissioner, and making sweeping reforms. The fight
business needs to organize into a boxing "league"
with standard guidelines. These changes would go a
long way towards cleaning up the boxing world's dysfunctional
Financial scandals, injuries, deaths and the exploitation
of the lower-class fighters by greedy self-proclaimed
promoters have boxing on the ropes. The recent deplorable
actions by Mike Tyson have left the fight fan agonizing
over the sport's questionable decisions and dubious
self-regulation. Yet, the sport continues to attract
large audiences and deep pocket investors.
Is there another great man out there waiting to
inspire the "lost fight fan?"
The great American fighters, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray
Robinson, and Sugar Ray Leonard elicit admiration
and fascination. Unfortunately, too many of today's
fighters elicit disgust, controversy, and sorrow.
Felix Trinidad, Shane Mosley, Roy Jones, Virgil Hill
are all fine fighters, but they don't yet inspire
awe, and only time will tell if they will make their
mark in boxing history.
But who will make his mark in the heart and soul of
the boxing fan?
Yo, Rocky, where are you?
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