The Beltline: Is boxing the easiest sport in the world?

When BEKS is called “the toughest sport in the world,” we think of punches thrown and taken, and picture the faces of brave boxers who do both for a living, and we generally accept the comment without question.

An ex-pro (George Groves) who met a Premier League footballer (John Terry) on a match day years ago later explained this to me: “Footballers think we train more than we actually do, boxers think footballers don’t. they are probably working out. That’s why you see this strange respect from them and they almost look up to you.”

In fact, it deserves respect, of course, as does any vote for boxing to be “the toughest sport in the world.” After all, anything that requires you to train the way a boxer has to train to make it through a 36-minute “race” deserves respect, and that’s before you get to the point where you’re both going to run for those 36 minutes. and throwing punches next to someone whose main goal is to knock you unconscious.

Put those terms and it’s hard to argue. Indeed, at the moment described earlier, someone like George Groves would have seen his profession differently than someone like John Terry, who had no experience. For better or worse, he’s been conditioned to think that what most people think is abnormal is actually quite normal for him.

For such men, it is only when the sport is darkened by news of injuries and tragedies that their equilibrium is momentarily disturbed and a new perspective is found. It’s in those unfortunate moments that even those who take their toughness for granted and, in turn, don’t accept the rigors of their sport, are forced to acknowledge the insanity of what they do for a living.

Proper boxing: Kenshiro Teraji and Hiroto Kyoguchi produced a classic earlier this month (Naoki Fukuda)

However, on the flip side, just as we have injuries, tragedies, and 12-round wars that we don’t understand, there are fights among YouTubers today that, for better or worse, tend to present us in full. reverse view. Unlike classic fights and proper fighters, boxing has a way of looking relatively easy. It’s easier than football. Easier than anything else. Undoubtedly the easiest sport in the world.

“Easiest” can mean two things. This may be related to the level of difficulty involved, or it may be related to access. If something is easy, i.e. requires very little effort or practice to complete. On the other hand, someone easy, they require very little convincing.

Whatever it is about boxing, the term seems more than applicable when watching YouTubers try to do it. Their entrance, as easy as it gets, certainly makes the sport look easy to outsiders, while the action produced in the ring afterwards, best described as sad, makes it look like everyone else is doing the sport. hands and a pair of gloves they can do in their spare time.

As fun as it sounds, it’s a problem, a big one. It’s not a problem for them, no, but it’s definitely a problem for boxing – or at least its optics. Because the more we encourage this new approach to sport and the more we blur the boundaries between what is real and what is not, the more likely it is that the sport and its competitors – the real ones – will suffer as a result.

Isn’t it a little embarrassing to think about the ease with which, even on a very basic level, we’ve let the stragglers in and let them do something that takes boxers years and years to understand? Boxing suddenly looks elementary, dumb, easy, in the hands of influencers and needle-punchers. You just throw punches and that’s it, right? You can move around a bit as long as your legs allow and occasionally spin to avoid danger, but really it’s just punching someone in the face. It’s not that special. It’s not that hard.

However, anyone who knows the truth knows that it is a lie; The lie that feeds us with increasing regularity often involves “boxers” telling it.

KSI vs. Logan Paul (Melina Pizano/Matchroom Boxing USA)

I think it’s one thing to let them in, but then it’s another thing to redefine what it means to be a boxer. It starts in terms of promotion – “pro boxers need to learn to promote themselves like these YouTubers and influencers” – and then, before you know it, the quality of the action in the ring becomes secondary to the names involved and social media. they bring with them the following. That’s when you lost control—no, surrendered he That’s when you let a once difficult sport – to do, to understand – become easy for the sole purpose of mass consumption. In other words, you are dumbing it down. You make it simple for simple minds.

This is certainly not a problem with boxing. In fact, I’ve lost count of the number of boxers who have either published a book or who have told me they want to publish a book one day without even mastering the basics of grammar and punctuation, let alone the craft of storytelling. These people, unlike YouTubers in the boxing ring, see the ability to text or tweet, or even speak their mind out loud, as a gateway to their egos — “everyone needs to hear what I have to say. story” – do the rest of the work.

The truth is that during my career in boxing I have met maybe four people, their story needed to hear and perhaps only recognized two who had the potential to carry out the telling of this story. After all, they are two completely different arts, writing and fighting, and it is almost insulting to think that the transition from one to the other will be anything but a disaster.

Nevertheless, day in and day out I find myself having to read poorly written posts from various boxers on the internet. Despite this, I still often read that some of these boxers believe that fans should not comment on two boxers punching each other in the ring because they are not boxing themselves.

Incidentally, this is a position that probably had legs before the recent influx of YouTubers and screen-addicted influencers scrapped. Just as the idea of ​​writing a book is now a matter for a boxer to sit down and massage his ego for a few weeks, the idea of ​​”boxing” today seems no more complicated or difficult than stepping into the ring. Throwing your fists willy-nilly.

Perhaps, finally, in the same way that social media has managed to undermine the importance and power of the written word, we will one day look back with a similar view this time to YouTube Boxing, a supposedly harmless gatekeeper. the hardest sport in the world looks easy; easy to enter and easy to do.