To say that fist fightin' for money in America has been disorganized and dangerous is to blunder onto the obvious, like standing in front of a desert and saying: "You just might get thirsty out there after a while."

Long ago, anybody who thought even a little bit came to the conclusion that too many bops to the head aren't wise. A sophisticated medical study three years ago verified that boxing is "deleterious to the human brain."

With that in mind, the American Medical Association has called for a ban on boxing. That's well intended and well researched, but it reaches for an ideal that cannot exist.

Let's ban boxing. Hooray! Legislation skips though Congress, a humane president signs it and the country immediately begins a love feast. Hot-headed men suddenly settle their differences in a civil way, say two out of three in chess.

What if word reached you that a fight between celebrated toughs was about to be staged somewhere secluded? What if you had to slip someone $20 to get inside?

You would say no, right? You would recoil in horror, adding: "I'm a law-abiding citizen, and that stuff's illegal now."

You'd really do that?

You'd pay.

Same as lots of people drank during prohibition. Sadly, fighting is too basic to our nature. And boxing generates too much money to forever cease simply because it ought to.

Besides, amateur boxing is well run and relatively safe. Why should a fellow clever in the ring be denied the chance to make a living at it? If the tax system can be reformed, after few thought that impossible for so long, maybe pro boxing can, too.

"It's not monitored like it should be," said Sugar Ray Leonard, whose desire to return to the sport dramatizes its allure.

Leonard would like to see more responsible managers, a modified version of thumbless gloves and better-qualified ringside doctors given more freedom to stop fights.

Most important, he said, there should be more complete physicals for fighters and more meaningful information about their fighting history.

"That 'passport' idea," he said, "sounds like a good one."

It's part of a bill sponsored by Rep. Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico) to overhaul pro boxing. The legislation calls for government intervention that is not nearly so imposing as it might seem.

Richardson wants boxing to be supervised by a nonprofit corporation called the United States Boxing Commission. For too long, he believes, the sport has been "a non-system."

"Each state determines the extent to which it will, or will not, regulate boxing," a summary of his bill states. "Forty-two states and the District of Columbia regulate boxing at the state level. Kansas, North Carolina, Nebraska and Oregon regulate boxing at the city level only. Colorado, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming do not regulate boxing at all.

"Herein lies the major problem with the sport -- boxers can go from state to state, participating in fights which may endanger their health and safety, or the health and safety of their opponents.

"There is no system to register boxers, to track the won/lost records of boxers. We do not even have good estimates of how many professional boxers there are. Location of fights, primarily because of television has become less and less important . . . so promoters who encounter problems complying with a particular state's regulations can simply move a fight to another state where standards are less strict or nonexistent.

"In so doing, the health and safety of boxers are compromised."

Something orderly and consistent -- and national in scope -- is necessary. Quickly. A U.S. Boxing Commission seems reasonable.

It would be federally chartered and nonprofit, similar to our governing body for amateur sport, the U.S. Olympic Committee. Two-year startup costs estimated at $1.5 million to $2 million would be paid back, with interest.

The bill's backers insist that funds can be raised from private sources or some sort of gate-receipt assessment.

The 12-member commission would:

"Propose changes in the rules of the sport to ensure the safety of fighters and to recommend a unified set of rules for state athletic or boxing commissions.

"Research the causes of boxing-related injuries and recommend preventive steps.

"Establish standards and procedures for various physical and mental examinations."

And so on. Perhaps the most significant aspect is the so-called boxer's passport. It is a document that would be presented before each fight and would include, from a national computer network, such facts as his medical record, won/lost record, weight status and business associations.

What the bill would not do, Richardson says, "is rank boxers, sanction or promote fights or infringe on the individual rights of boxers or the jurisdictions of state and local commissions."

That undoubtedly is why the Association of Boxing Commissioners, representing 37 states, recently endorsed his bill.

A study accompanying the bill says of amateur boxing: "a pure sport in which athletes compete to show their prowess is greater than their opponents." Pro boxing "is a business . . . with dollars many times overriding concern."

Amateur boxing "uses the same set of rules worldwide." Pro boxing "has four sets of rules: IBF, WBA, WBC and those set by state commissions."

Sensibly, the study argues: "The continued future of pro boxing as a sport may require the cooperation of its supporters and the patience of its detractors. The sport's prosperity and the careers of the young men who struggle in the ring may well depend on the success of these public and private efforts." gate-receipt assessment.

The 12-member commission would:

"Propose changes in the rules of the sport to ensure the safety of fighters and to recommend a unified set of rules for state athletic or boxing commissions.

"Research the causes of boxing-related injuries and recommend preventive steps.

"Establish standards and procedures for various physical and mental examinations."

And so on. Perhaps the most significant aspect is the so-called boxer's passport. It is a document that would be presented before each fight and would include, from a national computer network, such facts as his medical record, won/lost record, weight status and business associations.

What the bill would not do, Richardson says, "is rank boxers, sanction or promote fights or infringe on the individual rights of boxers or the jurisdictions of state and local commissions."

That undoubtedly is why the Association of Boxing Commissioners, representing 37 states, recently endorsed his bill.

A study accompanying the bill says of amateur boxing: "a pure sport in which athletes compete to show their prowess is greater than their opponents." Pro boxing "is a business . . . with dollars many times overriding concern."

Amateur boxing "uses the same set of rules worldwide." Pro boxing "has four sets of rules: IBF, WBA, WBC and those set by state commissions."

Sensibly, the study argues: "The continued future of pro boxing as a sport may require the cooperation of its supporters and the patience of its detractors. The sport's prosperity and the careers of the young men who struggle in the ring may well depend on the success of these public and private efforts."