In a sport where a celebrated icon known as Ali dubbed his African-American adversary a gorilla; a savage named Tyson chewed off a section of an opponent’s ear and combatants have plotted
In a sport where a celebrated icon known as Ali dubbed his African-American adversary a gorilla; a savage named Tyson chewed off a section of an opponent’s ear and combatants have plotted to reinforce their gloves with Plaster of Paris: perhaps it is naïve to expect a sprig of moral reckoning from current competitors. Irrespective of its publicised ills, boxing can still yield moments of unthinkable heroism and gallantry few other sports can rival. But this a fact overshadowed amidst the aftermath of depraved scenes in a post bout brawl implicating British boxers David Haye and Dereck Chisora.
The scene of the crime was Munich. Chisora had just fought commendably to a twelve round decision loss to long-reigning WBC Heavyweight Champion Vitali Klitschko. In what had been an acrimonious weekend for the Briton, Chisora had exhibited blind courage by ceaselessly advancing into the Ukrainians bludgeoning assault, salvaging respect from all present. Yet at the post fight press conference, in a characteristically impulsive move, he confronted his ever-outspoken compatriot David Haye with an ugly melee ensuing. Punches were exchanged; Chisora was glassed, crazed death threats of vengeance were issued and reputations were irretrievably tarnished.
Just another notorious lowlight in the interminable demise of boxing? Not necessarily. Undoubtedly, these inglorious events evidence the thuggery which often haunts a sport attracting characters that after all, trade in regulated violence. But equally, in the Zimbabwean born Chisora we are dealing with an unpredictable man charged with assault on his girlfriend in 2010, and with a penchant for biting his foes in the heat of battle. Regrettably, the fistfight was not his only misdemeanour of the fight weekend, as it followed the mindlessness of slapping opponent Vitali at the fight weigh-in and the contemptuous spitting of water into the face of Vitali’s brother, decorated IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitshcko upon entering the ring. Unhinged, reckless and devoid of class; Chisora is not fit to represent boxing.
Compounding a shaming weekend for any British patriots out there, was the performance of our ex-champ Haye who assumed an integral role in sullying the Union Jack rather than trooping it. In Munich for punditry obligations, the self-proclaimed ‘Hayemaker’ reared his unwanted head at the conference in an attempt to goad Vitali into a lucrative title fight. All this from the clown who after parading in a t-shirt depicting him holding the dismembered heads of the Klitschko’s, lost limply to Wladimir in a conclusive decision last Summer. Quite what erstwhile British Boxing heroes in the form of the charming Henry Cooper or the esteemed Lennox Lewis would make of Haye’s shameless self-marketing approach to the sport is beyond contemplation.
Further underscoring the loutish behaviour of Britain’s reprobates was the consummate display in sportsmanship and temperament that the Klitschko’s rendered. When slapped in the face; Vitali offered no retaliation. When spat in the face; Wladimir practiced self-restraint. Not only did the brothers school our boys in the ring, they produced an unerring lecture in how to conduct one’s self with integrity. If you want a reputable face for boxing, these muscle-bound; politically inclined, bi-linguals will more than suffice.
All in all, whilst boxing will always house questionable characters as a product of dealing in such a bloodthirsty trade, the values which the sport endorses were not showcased by the weapon-wielding clash in Germany. Discipline, respect and self-furtherance comprise the axioms of the pugilistic art: trained aggression, not untamed aggression. Unfailingly, boxing will continue to be a benevolent force worldwide providing an empowering livelihood to affluent and underprivileged people alike, but it is in dire need of a goodwill story. As for British boxing: it just needs a conscience.