In basement auditoriums of Brooklyn churches, Catholic schools, underground boxing gyms, or whatever room can afford the space, there is a remnant of an old world. It’s both tradition and nostalgia. But it's a bore to discuss boxing in some sort of wistful sense. We lament about what the sport was: in the old days... a soundtrack to all those who wish we had another Marciano, Ali, or even a Tyson - God what I would give for that.
The truth is, the sport has become something far more simple these days. A group of long time hold outs, who have no outlets in the world except fists, gloves, and shorts.
The young men and women who fight are not here for glory, they would've played basketball for that, nor money playing baseball for that, or fame with football. All those things are long gone in the sea of professional sports, UFC, and WWE. Their names are irrelevant, their records just number, and naturally, who they will be is still unknown, except for their win. The win is by no means glorious. It only offers you to the opportunity to live to see another day. To advance yourself into a professional career full of drama and sedition. But here, you are equal. No uneven purses, no politics, no fixes and no managers to sway you.
Fights are less brutal: tactical and directed to win rather than decimate. After all, these are the same guys you are going to fight later on if you make it pro. You don’t want to be the animal, no one wants to be in the ring with an animal. But you want to be feared - or else your purse won’t add up.
Bringing a balance is key. That balance may be the only thing that is stable in their lives.
While they fight for their honor, they are surrounded by their friends, family, screaming children and proselytizing priests. Though this is not their home, it certainly feels damned close to it. It's a closed community here in the amateur circuit. A few fidgety veterans, golden glove charms hanging from their necks like a Purple Heart, are the architects, but the homemakers and the kids bring them all back to reality, and that's where you come in and cheer.
The same parties crowd around the ring at each session, they say few words: a nod, a wink, and sometimes a smile at each. The trainers know the effort their fighters have put into each match, and few are surprised at the results of each match. The men sweeten the pot, a few bucks at each fight, just to break the monotony of beer and racial epithets, thrown in the most earnest of jest.
Mothers cheer as their sons break ribs and spit out blood in contempt of their enemies, while their opponents sit silently, tormented by their child's defeat. And then it's over. Never again.
"Swing around," they say. "Keep that jab in his face, yellow," they yell. And on the fighters play. And on the fighters dig their fists into the other. "You the boss, yellow."
Keeping them all in the party line of their colors.
He shudders at the sound of his mothers voice, missing a right hook, allowing his opponent to get in. His mother screams in more agony than he as he gets pummeled in the ring. And then he hears anger. Rage in her voice when he knows he has disappointed her.