INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - In an era where the NFL is under legal attack for withholding information about the dangers of concussions, the sport of boxing continues to offer prize money for inflicting the same.
Definition of a concussion: "An injury to an organ, especially the brain, produced by a violent blow and followed by a temporary or prolonged loss of function." Boxing is the only sport left on the planet that not only condones concussions, but makes them the goal, awards them and applauds them with headlines such as: "KNOCKOUT VICTORY!"
Why do we encourage these gifted athletes to rattle each other's brains for our entertainment when we know their lives will never be quite the same.
Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao met this month for the fourth time, each fight more tenacious than the last. The first three were decided by decisions, but the fourth resulted in a knockout of Pacquiao. According to an Associated Press report, "The winner, Juan Manuel Marquez sang 'Happy Birthday' to Bob Arum at the post-fight news conference, with a concussion and a broken nose. The loser, Manny Pacquiao, sat in a nearby hospital, having a brain scan."
With the score now even at two and two, Arum, chairman of Top Rank Boxing, is already entertaining a fifth fight between the two gladiators. "I'll call it Pacquiao-Marquez 5: Epic."
Epic? I would not like to see a picture of these two athletes twenty years from now. Actually, we already have that picture - Muhammad Ali.
For the beating he took at the hands of Marquez, Pacquiao was guaranteed 25 million dollars. Worth it? I don't think so. I guess the good news is, we can purchase Manny Pacquiao energy bracelets for $34.95 while they last.
So what's the answer to keeping this sport entertaining while preventing concussions? Olympic rules and regulations would be a good place to start. Professional pugilists would be required to wear approved headgear and 10 ounce gloves. This is still boxing, we're not looking for a pillow fight here.
We've come a long way from the stark roots of a sport that first appeared in the Olympic Games of 688 BC, when leather bands that covered the fist were filled with metal. To be knocked out in ancient Greece was to be carried from the ring on a slab, then straight away to the cemetery in a coffin.
Mike Fink was the first American to make a name for himself as the brawling "King of the Keelboaters" back in the early 1800s on the Mississippi River. I shall close here with a concussion and whisky fueled boast that Mike Fink was known to bellow: "I can out-run, out-jump, out-shoot, out-brag, out-drink, an' out fight, rough-an'-tumble, no holts barred, ary man on both sides the river from Pittsburgj to New Orleans an' back again to St. Louiee. Come on, you flatters, you bargers, you milk-white mechanics, an' see how tough I am to chaw! I ain't had a fight for two days an' I'm spilein' for exercise. Cock-a-doodle-doo!"
- Learn more about McAvoy Layne at ghostoftwain.org.