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Get In The Ring

rode with the muggers in the dark and dread
and all them sluggers went down like lead
-Mark Knopfler “Song for Sonny Liston”

So Michael Vick got nailed for dog fighting. Some will point out that it’s just animals involved, but this argument has been applied with equally dismissive distinction to certain groups of people too. My mom’s an animal lover and I’ve probably adopted this trait from her. Strictly speaking, I don’t trust too many people who feel nothing for dogs. I’ve met a lot of animals and a lot of people in my time, and there are several from the first group that I’d take over several in the second. You don’t see many horses betting on people, and for the most part dogs don’t inflict as much psychological damage on their young. Still, I’m no vegetarian and I don’t go around splashing paint on fur-wearing model types, so I suppose my stance is more philosophical than moral or practiced.

Boxing has been subjected to more vociferous objections over the years than has dog fighting, undoubtedly because there are people (primarily men) involved and it is brutal. But it’s also a decidedly honest vocation at its core, despite all the corruption surrounding it at the highest level. With all the falls taken for money, it’s still nearly impossible to fake a true knockout. Just freeze-frame a few at the moment of impact from early in Mike Tyson’s career, then try launching a recruiting drive. Most people don’t want that kind of honesty in their lives, thus the demand for lawyers, accountants, and indian chiefs. A guy who worked for our company in a mid-level position once described to me a great day that he had at work.  It involved handling several different tasks – printing and assembling sixteen and thirty-five millimeter film – along with competently answering varied client phone calls centering on complex questions. He said that he didn’t realize it until later, but at that moment he was at “the top of his game.” Sonny Liston may have been at the top of his game in 1959, and not many years after that was looking up from the mat at Ali in that famed shot. While it might not lead to restful retirement, that kind of decisive career arc seems invaluable on another level. How many of us even allow ourselves to get in the game in the first place? (8/21/07)

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