February 1, 2000
Bruno on Boxing
By Joe Bruno---Former vice president of the New York Boxing Writers
Association and the International Boxing Writers Association
News Items: Sarasota Herald Tribune Columnist says "Fighting (Boxing) is not
Iíve read some harebrained columns in my time, but this one takes the
Whenever a boxer gets seriously hurt, invariable some weasel comes out of
the woodwork and calls for the abolition of boxing. Last week, welterweight
Emiliano Valdez was battered into a coma by Teddy Reid In Venice, Florida at
the Venice Arena. The fight was broadcast nationally on the Fox Sports
Network. The fight was a fairly even fight, but Valdez was falling behind in
the late rounds. The end came so suddenly, the referee Brian Garry was
powerless to stop the last two punches which rendered Valdez senseless.
Within seconds, paramedics rushed into the ring, and Valdez was whisked away
to the Venice Bon Secours Hospital, less than a mile away from the Venice
Arena. Valdez is still in a coma, but his brain swelling has reduced
drastically. His recovery is not certain, but his odds of surviving have
The Sarasota Herald Tribune is owned by the New York Times, who has for
years, whined for the abolition of boxing. In New York City and around the
world, the NY Times editorial policy has the reputation of leaning to the
left of Lenin. Their stepchild down here in sunny Sarasota is now showing
indications of sustaining the same southpaw tilt.
To be fair, no sports fan in New York City, of which I was a resident for
48 years, actually reads the New York Times sports section. Most NY City
residents buy the NY Times primarily to give the appearance of
intellectuality while riding the subways. But never do you see these hardly
souls holding up the sports section while they pretend to peruse. The
preferred instrument of this charade is usually the International section of
the New York Times, and sometimes the Science section. In truth, the NY Times
lines the preeminent bird cages in town, and is a wonderful instrument at the
Fulton Fish Market for wrapping fish.
But letís get back to the Florida version, and itís word-challenged
columnist Tom Lyons. IN New York City, Lyons would be lucky to get a job a a
legitimate newspaperís copy room, but down here folks, they give the dolt a
column. Go figure.
Lyonís lead, if one can call it that, was thus: "Just wondering: How the
heck did boxing promoters get the idea that Venice was a good place to
nurture professional boxing? Venice? Boxing? I don't mean to stereotype the
town in an unfairly limiting way. I mean it as a positive thing when I say
that I expect to find professional boxing in Venice about as much as I expect
a lap-dancing district there. And the way I feel about boxing, lap dancing
would be better for the city's reputation, anyway."
Donít mean to stereotype the town?
Venice, part of Sarasota county, is often kiddingly labeled by the young
folks down here as, "The home of the newlywed and the land of the nearly
dead." People up north reportedly say, "My parents live in Sarasota. Their
parents live in Venice."
Okay. So you get the message. Old folk live in Sarasota. The main type of
employment is Social Security. The Mayor of Venice is so old his Social
Security number is One. Etc... Etc...
But to quote Dylan, the times they are a changing. More and more of the
Geritol-less generation is moving from up north down to sunny Florida. And in
places like Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, Detroit, Cincinnati and
Cleveland, boxing is big time and big business. Venice is a perfect place to
"Nurture professional boxing." And the Venice Arena is a first class venue
to present the sport.
Oh, but wait. The Cowardly Lyons doesnít think boxing is a sport.
He proceeded to stammer, "Fighting is not a sport. Professional boxing is
about pounding another human being into insensibility. That doesn't qualify
for me. Neither does a bar brawl. Real sports, I figure, are physical and
mental contests created so people can use some or all of the traits that are
used in fighting -- strength, skill, quickness, determination, endurance,
physical courage, strategy -- but without the murderous intent. That's how
sports provided a civilizing influence. It allowed people to compete
aggressively without becoming killers."
Oh, but golf (There are 30-something golf courses in Sarasota and a major
part of the Sarasota Herald Tribuneís advertising revenues), where guys
older than Bob Hope pitter-put that little white ball up and down green
fairways while taking intermittent puffs on their oxygen masks --- thatís a
sport. These old duffers, as Lyonís defines his idea of sports, obviously
display "traits that are used in fighting -- strength, skill, quickness,
determination, endurance, physical courage, strategy."
Yeah right. Quickness and endurance. Real hard to maneuver those golf
carts without running out of breath.
Physical courage. Damn if those golf balls donít sometimes hit back. Ever
get pelted by a flying divot?
Determination. Right, those intrepid golfers are damn determined to make
it to the 19th hole, so that they can bang down a few brews, or a Bloody Mary
or two. Not easy when you keep getting lost in the rough.
As for the tragedy that occurred in Venice, Lyons had these sage words, "No one meant to kill or maim anyone in that fight in Venice. But that's a bit
like saying you didn't mean to hurt anyone when you went drunk driving on the
sidewalk. What do you expect?"
The sport of boxing is like drunken driving? Lyons actually compared
brave boxers getting into the ring, with some plastered yahoo stumbling into
his raced-up truck and plowing onto the sidewalk, knocking over pedestrians
like bowling pins.
After saying boxing is nothing more than legalized mayhem, Lyons
concluded with, "So how does felony becomes sport when you add a few rules,
a referee and some paying gawkers?"
It would be hopeless to point out to this mental midget that every year
they are more deaths in high school football just in the state of Texas, than
there are boxing deaths in the entire world. And isnít killing innocent
people while speeding in a souped-up car also a felony. Where is Lyonís
outrage against the very popular sport of NASCAR Racing. By the way, the
nearby Desoto Speedway is also a major Sarasota Herald Tribune advertiser.
Wouldnít want to make the money guys mad.
A young man lays in a coma in a nearby hospital and Tom Lyons chooses
this sad state of affairs to crucify a sport, where itís participants show
more skill and courage in a three-minute round than a hundred keyboard
punchers like Tom Lyons display in their lifetimes. Combined.
Some people, and newspapers, have no shame.
Anyone have any fresh fish that needs to be wrapped?