Howard Means' "The Glory of Boxing" (op-ed, Sept. 16) was an unbelievable statement of twisted logic, and a myopic expression of what constitutes the human condition. If Means sees glory in the sport of boxing, he must see absolutely no dignity in the nature of man. Such a view is not uncommon in a society that chooses to see boxing as a sport and not as a degrading spectacle, ogled over by ring sycophants, ubiquitous sports pundits and a satiated public for whom casual street violence, organized football and hockey mayhem is not enough.
Means proudly points to boxing's origins in the glory that was Greece but ignores the fact that the Greeks also gave us slavery and infanticide. Few see glory in either of these Greek-inherited institutions, perhaps because no promoter has yet found a way to make money on them.
"Boxers," he says, "wear one another down, hurt one another, knock an opponent down or render him incapable of going on." So do tigers and lions. Means suggests that boxers are so pure, so pristine that they eschew the profane practice of endorsements. He says, "Boxers do not endorse underwear," an obvious reference to Jim Palmer's underwear ads in magazines. But in trying to cover boxers with Greek glory, he forgets Sugar Ray's huckstering for Seven-Up and Ali's pitch for De-Con.
But Means' most glaring omission is his failure to address the moral dimension of boxing. Is it moral for one human to beat another into insensibility? Is it moral for one human to deliberately injure another?
When a fighter pounds another man into helplessness, scars his face, jars his brain and exposes a badly injured body to lasting, even fatal, damage, he surpasses the bounds of reason.
Means says that the only one who shares in the winner's agony is the loser. On the contrary, the society that enjoys the vicarious brutality, the hucksters who earn their living by promoting such violence, and those who see glory in ugliness share in the agony of the winner. And ironically, they are all losers.