Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Boxer

Boxing is a cruel sport, beautiful and ugly at the same time... and one I've always loved since my Dad took me to see the Ali-Liston fight in Lewiston, Maine in 1965.

The famous photo of Ali standing over Sonny Liston is from that fight. A geeky 12-year-old is somewhere in that crowd, standing up by himself. My Dad had gone to get a beer right before the match started and hadn't made it back to his seat within the first minute of the first round when Ali threw the "phantom punch" that may or may not have ever touched Liston.

Peggy bought me a framed reproduction of that shot a few years ago, and it's mounted over my bedroom dresser.

I don't excuse boxing or my love for it, "It's my nature," as friend Scorpion would say. But to love its beauty you have to acknowledge the ugliness too. Leon Spinks took the championship away from Ali on a February night in 1978 in one of the greatest upsets in boxing history. Today, Spinks lives in Columbus, Nebraska, essentially broke, suffering from dementia, working as a janitor in a local Y.

But not broken. Never broken. And that's the beauty. Here's Spink's story.


Maudie said...

Friday nights at our house growing up - Mom & Dad out to dinner and my brother & I in front of the tube watching Friday Night Fights (brought to you by Gillette and Jax, the beal jeer) - I was 14 when the moment in the pic happened... takes me back

Ignatious said...

wow, great story.