“The punishment – to the body, the brain, the spirit – a man must endure to become even a moderately good boxer is inconceivable to most of us whose idea of personal risk is largely ego-related or emotional.”
- Joyce Carol Oates.
This here's a post in which I tell you about this HBO doc "Assault in the Ring," and then at the end Lil' Scrappy and Paul Simon do it real big.
Pugilism is so gross and dirty and usually involves 2 poor kids with brown skin whuppin the living Christ out of each other to prove their manhood and get a small rectangular piece of paper with a handwritten dollar amount on it. (insert my bell hooks impression here)
At first, the tomboy in me was a little disappointed in my distaste for the act of fists hitting faces, but the sensitive girl in me is ruling out. Boxing is for men, it's a secret club that I'm left out of, but I'm relieved by this. I'll be over here baking a pie and tending to the children if you need me.
So this one time at MSG, in '83, there was a fight between--what's this?--a Latino man and an Irish-American man! You know, 'cause the promoters wanted to do something different. Luis Resto was Puerto Rican-born, Bronx-raised, and pretty good (20 wins, 7 losses); Billy Collins was Irish with a Tennessee accent, and undefeated after 14 fights. Apparently, you guys, in boxing there are terms like having "an 'orthodox' stance" and being a "journeyman"; I'm gonna have to look these up later, but the whole movie describes Resto as this journeyman type, and how this had somehow contributed to his status as the underdog in the match. However, during the fight, Collins' face then gets in the way of Resto's fists many times, many many times, and gets bruised beyond recognition--it looks like he's wearing eyeblack on his cheekbones, Jesus Christ, and his eyes are swollen shut (these scenes in the doc are where I have to cover my eyes and say, "Oh nooo" in a girly fashion). "It's weird," everyone says upon seeing this when the fight is over and Resto is declared the winner, "that such damage could be done in a welterweight match." Hmm.
It is then discovered that most of the padding had been taken out of Resto's gloves by his bejeweled Panamanian trainer, Carlos "Panama" Lewis, the Slick Rick of boxing:
I know little about this sport (welterweight? middleweight? huh?) but even I am fairly certain that knuckle-to-bare-face contact in the ring is frowned upon. Throughout the film, Resto says he doesn't know the padding was removed, then he does know but doesn't know who did it, then admits to having a pretty good idea who did it. He and Panama are both convicted of assault and, in a complete legal badass move by New York State legal system, are also found guilty of criminal possession of a weapon (Resto's padding-less hands in the boxing ring).
(Similarly, if I go to jail for my hips, you guys know why.)
Resto and Panama spent two-and-a-half years in jail each, and were both banned from the sport for life. Things do not end well for Collins, either.
Resto gets out of jail but can't earn a living because he can't get his fighting license back, his family leaves, and he moves into the basement of the Morris Park Gym in the Bronx--where he lives for 10 years and meets the criteria for Depression, according to me. His role in the scandal eats him alive psychologically, every day, he tries to apologize to people who aren't having it, and I feel very sad inside watching it all happen. Plus the documentarian is a bit too salacious with this material and tries to be Resto's best friend, priest, cheerleader, and counselor. However, then some good stuff happens that involve people feeling better about themselves, mending family relationships, and other things that appeal to my girly sensibilities.
In closing, you guys should watch it.
And for musical accompaniment, I've brought along Crime Mob & 2 white dudes from Queens. Let's do this.
OMG, did you guys know that sometimes songs aren't really about what it seems like they're about? Lyrics are code for things, many times. Today on HeightFiveSeven, however, "The Boxer" is about a boxer.
"The Boxer," from Live 1969.