A savage boxing match took place on a recent Saturday (April 28, 2012) in Atlantic City. The only reason it made news is because the knockout punch was so nasty.
Daily Mail of the U.K. (5/1/12) reported on this, showing graphic photos of the punch and the distorted image (caused by the punch) of the hapless face of the knockout victim. The headline reads: “That’s going to hurt in the morning: Brutal knockout blow turns boxer’s face to jelly.” The article also said his face was turned into “mush.”
The 23-year winner of the bout was quoted as saying, “I was so excited that I did a little dance for the fans, but that was before I saw how badly he was hurt.” He also noted, “I felt that punch all the way up my shoulder and back, so I knew he wasn’t getting up.”
Is it just me? It seems there’s something savage about the whole sport.
I find it ironic that Muhammad Ali is the most successful boxer of my lifetime. But hasn’t he spent the last 30-40 years in terrible health — because of so many punches received? If that’s success in boxing, what is failure? I suppose it would be getting your face turned into “jelly” or “mush.”
Sorry for being a party pooper, but do people find this entertaining?
I consider Matt Barber a friend. He’s a former part-time professional boxer turned culture warrior (on the right side too). He won most of his matches, but his wife convinced him to quit when he endured a blow that impacted his windpipe. Now he fights in the court of ideas for religious liberty and through his columns. A book of his columns even played off of the boxer theme — The Right Hook.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s terrific when people discipline their bodies and get them into top athletic shape. What I don’t like is when they use their bodies as weapons to decimate others for the entertainment of others; it just becomes an appeal to old-fashioned bloodlust.
One of the saddest stories I remember reading was about a man who had no money but wanted so badly to go see his mother. Not being able to afford the airfare, he agreed to go into a boxing ring — although he was out of shape — to somehow earn a few bucks. But he was killed in that bout. He never got to see his mother.
Speaking of bloodlust, as of this writing, a major blockbuster movie is Hunger Games.
This film depicts a bleak future, where human life is even cheaper than it is now. The film shows how a group of 24 teens have to battle it out with each other until only one is left alive — all for the entertainment of society, which sees it on TV.
One announcer at the start of this contest declares, “We have a bloodbath about to take place.” At least you can say for violent movies today, presumably no animals were even hurt in the making of the movie, much less any actors or actresses (or stunt-people).
But it wasn’t always this way. That is to say, prior to the humanizing influence of the church, it used to be that human beings killed one another for sport. In the gladiatorial contests of ancient Rome, slaves would fight until death. They were forced to do it. Half the population of Rome was slaves. As a trailer for Hunger Games declares, “Kill or be killed.” That’s what these gladiators had to do — kill or be killed.
Perhaps, the climax of this orgy of blood was when Emperor Trajan held a spectacle wherein 10,000 gladiators were killed in a span of only four months.
When Emperor Constantine professed Christianity in the early part of the fourth century, he decreed that these games should cease. For a while it was so.
But slowly the contests crept back, until one day in 404, when a humble monk, Telemachus, stumbled across one of these cruel contests in the arena. He yelled out, “In the name of Christ, forbear!” In other words, “In the name of Christ, stop this thing!”
The late Chuck Colson writes: “The fighting began, of course. No one paid the slightest heed to the puny voice. So Telemachus pattered down the stone steps and leapt onto the sandy floor of the arena. He made a comic figures — a scrawny man in a monk’s habit dashing back and forth between muscular, armed athletes. One gladiator sent him sprawling with a blow from his shield, directing him back to his seat. It was a rough gesture, though almost a kind one. The crowd roared.”
Telemachus ended up getting murdered that day, trying to interpose his body to get the gladiators to stop. When the emperor heard about this, he abolished the games once and for all.
Colson sums up: “There were other forces at work, of course, but that innocent figure lying in the pool of blood crystallized the opposition, and that was the last gladiatorial contest in the Roman Coliseum. Never again did men kill each other for the crowds’ entertainment in the Roman arena.”
Competition is healthy. The Apostle Paul even likens the spiritual life to a foot race. Sports can be beneficial and exhilarating. But we should never take pleasure in human beings, created in the image of God, destroying one another for mere entertainment.