Center for Labor Education & Research, University of Hawaii - West Oahu: Honolulu Record Digitization Project

Honolulu Record, Volume 10 No. 9, Thursday, September 26, 1957 p. 4


Sport Shorts

Should Boxing Be Abolished?

A couple of weeks ago, Jimmy Jemail, the inquiring reporter of Sports Illustrated, asked his usual quota of sports fans from various walks of life and of both sexes, "Will boxing be abolished?" Only, a few expressed the thought that boxing ever will toe abolished, especially in the U.S., though there were some who thought it should be.

The question, "Should boxing be abolished?" has been more or less in the minds of Americans ever since John L. Sullivan and James J. Corbett fought the first heavyweight championship fight with gloves in New Orleans in 1892. It took a good many years for the general public to accept boxing as a spectacle it should be allowed to see, and even then the percentage of people who actually saw fights through any medium was comparatively small.

As in Spain and Mexico, where bullfighting is some times called the "national sport," there were actually thousands of people who never saw fights and theoretically disapproved of them. Television has changed all that. Now professional boxing has entered into the homes of many people who never saw it before. Boxing won plenty of supporters from this vast new audience, so many that most of the industry's effort nowadays goes toward pleasing this audience instead of the faithful who still attend the fights in person. But it has also increased the number of critics of the game. So has the series of boxing scandals that broke anew on the nation a couple of years ago.

Thus the question rises again of whether boxing should be abolished or not. No distinction is made between the amateur and professional sports among those who raise the question. But since the question is raised, we feel a sort of duty to present some of the arguments for and against boxing as a sport if for no better reason than to provoke thought and discussion. The column will be receptive to any comment any reader wishes to make, no matter which side of the argument he takes.

Some Arguments Against Boxing:

1. It is the most brutal of all American sports because it is the only one in which the object of the game is to commit as much physical damage as possible upon one's opponent, within prescribed limitations. The man who batters his opponent into unconsciousness in the shortest possible time is the most highly esteemed boxer. Thus, the ironic title given the sport by W. O. McGeehan, "The Manly Art of Modified Murder," is not without basis.

2. Instead of producing "strong minds in strong bodies," boxing is more likely to harm tooth mind and body than to improve them. The punch-drunk wrecks left in the wake of boxing campaigns are evidence of this concept. Scarred faces, cauliflower cars, broken noses are all proof that boxing certainly doesn't improve the physical beauty of a boxer. Likewise, the abnormal effort required of most boxers of "making weight," then fighting in a weakened condition, does more long range damage than good to the man who undergoes it. In extreme cases, weight-making efforts have resulted in physical breakdown for some individuals.

3. Boxing has always been a fertile field for gamblers, racketeers and gangsters who have manipulated individuals for their gain, and created a situation that bilked the public out of millions of dollars on fixed fights, while using boxers as "mere pawns. Instead of being a field in which golden opportunity awaits a lad with fast fists, courage and excellent reflexes, professional boxing repays even its heroes in shabby fashion. Great fighters who die broke have been more nearly the rule than the exception. They have often been mismanaged by their managers to such an extent that they find themselves worse off at the ends of their careers than at the beginning. Primo Camera, Joe Louis and Bobo Olson are a few cases that come to mind.

Some Arguments in Favor of Boxing:

1. While the object of boxing is to render one's opponent unconscious, the sport appeals far less to the sadistic sides of spectators than, for instance, pro wrestling in which all kinds of mayhem are enacted for credulous crowds whose favorite cry is, "Break it off!" Would any student of sport deny that a high percentage of roller derby "fans are attracted by the pseudo-fights that enliven the skating action? Or that the average football fan takes a somewhat sadistic pleasure in seeing an extra rough tackle thrown on an opposing backfield man? Or that there are those who attend the 500-mile-automobile racing classic at Indianapolis mainly to watch the accidents?

2. To take a realistic view, boxing is good training for life. Whether we like it or not, every boy growing to manhood will be faced with struggles. If he knows how to "take care of himself," the knowledge will give him confidence in himself to compete with other boys and youths and finally other men. Boxing was considered excellent train- for soldiers in World War I. It has been considered a deterrent to crime by such organizations as the Police Athletic League and the Catholic Youth Organization, and it has provided a vigorous outlet for the energies of underprivileged young men who might otherwise have turned to crime. For some, like Rocky Graziano, it has proved a stepping stone to a type of financial success that could not have been realized otherwise.

3. Boxing, like other sports and maybe more than most, has been an instrument of democracy. Long before Jackie Robinson broke the color line of organized baseball, Negroes had won world championships in boxing.

4. College football produces far more serious injuries and deaths than professional boxing. Partly that is because' it is virtually impossible for three officials to watch all the action that takes place on a football field among 22 participants. But a referee and two judges can watch the action between two men in a boxing ring very closely and usually stop the fight to prevent serious injury. Thus boxing is supervised more closely than most rough body-contact sports such as football, lacrosse, ice and field hockey.

The ills of gangsterism and corruption that have afflicted professional boxing are nothing that can't be cured by investigation, legislation and honest administration. Nor arc these ills peculiar to boxing alone. The activity of gangsters and gamblers around the racetracks brought the strictest supervision of horse-races. And it's been only a few years since they infiltrated college basketball on the East Coast, yet no one suggested that college basketball should be abolished. Locally, few sports fans have forgotten the football scandals that were exposed in the professional game here in 1948.

p /> I do not say that at odd hours a patient must be given the regular hot dinner or supper. Few people would expect this.
But what is so complicated about opening and heating a can of soup, making some toast, or preparing instant coffee or tea? Why cannot a night nurse do these simple things after the kitchen to closed? Is it just too much trouble?

It is only common humanity to feed the hungry. If our hospitals are too big, too complex, too impersonal to do these small kindnesses for the sick, something is very wrong.