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Bruno on Boxing
Joe Bruno

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 a sport."

Iíve read some harebrained columns in my time, but this one takes the cake.

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 improved dramatically.

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?

   



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