Monday, August 18, 2008

Boxing at Workers' Gymnasium

I attended Olympic boxing Saturday night with Jiujiu and wrote a story for ESPN The Blog that was published today. I've reproduced excerpts of an unedited version below.

Let's just say the bouts didn't get good until the Chinese took on the French, in the fourth bout of our evening. Then hell broke loose in the arena.

"The Sweet Science." It could mean many things yet nothing at all, and so it is that boxing is likewise hard to pinpoint. Is it a science for its technicality or art for the humanistic exhilaration of mano a mano battle? Is it sport or brutality? Is it competition or assault? Throw the phrase "boxing is called the sweet science because" into Google and you won't come any closer to an answer ("Boxing is called the sweet science because thats what it really is when you watch the best fight" [sic]). The best you can hope for is to take a seat and soak it in.

That's why we were at Workers' Gymnasium Saturday night, taking in eight pre-quarters bouts in the light fly (48 kg) division. Amateur boxing may be under fire for its scoring system, which awards points for punches deemed successful ("They way it is now, you might as well do fencing if they are going to judge like that," Britain's Billy Joe Saunders said after he lost his welterweight fight last Thursday), but that doesn't detract from the excitement of being in the venue. One bout in particular comes to mind.


Yanez was gracious in defeat, congratulating his opponent and going over to shake hands with the Mongolian trainers. He exited with dignity, even as an unpopular decision -- yet another in a string of many -- left fans shaking their heads. Science? Hardly. If but only for the saving grace of sweetness.

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