By: Ken Hissner
At age 74 this writer has been a boxing fan since at age 8 watching the rematch between then World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Marciano and the former champion “Jersey” Joe Walcott on TV with my dad.
I’ve watched many changes especially in boxing. The then great trainers didn’t always pass down their knowledge possibly in fear of losing a fighter they trained. Trainers are in a position where “they do not have a contract with a boxer” as the manager does so there is little protection. You lose a fight today and the boxer changes trainers as if it were the fault of the trainer and not the boxers.
At an early age I loved watching professional wrestling. Several of my favorites were Argentina Rocca and Haystacks Calhoun. With age I realized the results in wrestling was known prior to the match. I was told by one who was involved in wrestling a “blood capsule” was placed in the mouth of a wrestler and when “hit” the blood from the capsule looked like real blood coming out. Granted, they had to be in good enough condition to take the tumbles and falls they did.
In time I grew out of watching wrestling though once watching high school wrestling at state championships in Pennsylvania with three events going on at once I knew that at that level let alone college it was really a tough sport. That is probably where some of the better MMA-UFC fighters have an advantage today.
We now live in a “blood thirsty” society that the more violence the better for the say 20 to 50 crowd enjoy the more blood and violence the better! I don’t even want to get into the NFL’s violence. Do they test for steroids?
So as more American men today rather choose playing a team sport where they can make plenty of money without having to take all the “blame” whereas unless it’s a last play failing the team takes the blame for the loss not the individual as in boxing it’s “safer!” Today in boxing you have some of the best P4P boxers coming from Eastern Europe where they come to the United States “hungry” like the Americans did say in the 50’s and 60’s they have great success. The Ukraine’s Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko and Kazakhstan’s Gennady “GGG” Golovkin are great examples of that today.
So along comes MMA-UFC and I can’t believe how the fan’s go crazy for the violence as they do for American football where the injuries are horrific. A quarterback literally takes his life into his hands waiting to be crushed by a 250 pound “monster” hitting him from the-blindside! I couldn’t believe it when while serving in the Army in the mid 60’s when NY Jet quarterback Joe Namath claimed he couldn’t go in because of “bad knees!” Bad knees? How dangerous would it have been getting inducted and probably leading recruits into calisthenics? You think the greats like Joe “The Brown Bomber” and “Sugar” Ray Robinson were put into combat while serving during World War II?
The Gracie family has brought their development of Brazilian jiu-jitsu into Mixed Martial Arts and made their mark! From this writers point of view I see two guys wrestling to the ground as in a street fight with one on top of the other smashing his face into submission and think “such brutality”. There are skills I don’t watch long enough to pick up on. At least in boxing it is against the rules of “hitting below the belt”.
Now there seems to be a resurgence coming in Bare Knuckle Boxing. Top unbeaten BKB fighter Bobby Gunn once told me “it’s not as brutal as boxing” because one punch usually can end it much sooner than taking a beating over ten rounds with boxing gloves on.
To make long story by now not so short for someone over 60 getting the thrill watching MMA-UFC as one would seeing for example the first Marciano-Walcott fight when the challenger was well behind going into the thirteenth round and pulls out by way of knockout is second to none!