Gen X, The Boomer, and the Fight of the Century
Heavyweight boxing; once truly the greatest prize on the planet is now though behaving as a baby boomer in the modern world; cognizant of its once former dominance, yet strangely aware of its fragility on the world sporting stage.
Challenges exist everyday to the preeminent position once held. no longer the leave it to beaver of the sport, the years of lighter weight divisions in boxing flexing their muscle alongside new sports and new entertainment options have eroded the heavyweight division as have gen x's, gen y's, and of course age, the baby boomer.
Once the centre of the sporting world, now, another boutique sport with an ever dwindling fan base, rapidly becoming one of those with a 'dedicated hard core following', but little else outside it.
Indeed the days of the 'mom of the family' naming a heavyweight champion, are long gone sadly she might not even these days know that there is a heavyweight division.
Of course, belonging to the 'DHCF' there are so many angles that the stellar division can provide. As I indicated in my last article light will always shine brightest at the point of greatest darkness, and so has heavyweight boxing been in the entirety of its history.
Ultimately sport is entertainment, and as airlines around the world are apt to say when the plane lands normal"">'we'd like to thank you for flying with us, because we know you have many options'. Indeed, with population ratcheting up to new levels of madness, and globalism fuelling rampant consumerism, people haven't a moment to think of anything more than 'being viable'. Obviously boomers are now long gone from that, but heavyweight boxing isn't. It still is massive entertainment if the stars are in alignment and if technology and bosses can relax the increasing energy to enslave people to work 2 four seven. (and thus be able to enjoy entertainment)
Watching a rerun of an HBO broadcast of a lighter weight division I was enthralled with Max Kellerman’s emotional call of 'folks there's no other moment in sport like it'. He was and is right. when the MC has fuelled the imagination of a global audience and the referee has finished the ceremonial instructions, and with the fighters in their respective corners waiting for the bell, that anticipation rises through a person as does adrenalin in a heart attack induced lab rat, on the resuscitation table.
I was in a suburban home in 1971 on March 8. My parents had just moved to their new digs, from weatherboard, dirt road lodgings to a new brick veneer on an estate. This was a move up from the working class, something
in those days everyone aspired to. Sadly though the wallet could only afford so much and it would be another 6 months before curtains would allow modesty for the 'family on the hill'.
We didn't mind, everyone else on the 'hill' was in the same boat. People moving from one platform to another, from one postcode to a better one. There was though one awkward moment when on that night in New York City, a small suburb half way around the world wasn't in darkness, in fact it was blazing sunshine in an autumn with that tiger wagging its tail.
Sunlight streamed in from all over the place. Part of elevating one's station in life is definitely to have more glass. Think about it...the rich don't even have brick. it's reinforced frosted glass, with double glazed glass, and even glass roofs....well we weren't there, but goddam, there was a poultice of glass; great for looking at sunrises on the adjacent hills beyond the valley, but appalling if one was factoring in a heavyweight championship match billed as the 'fight of the century'.
I recall three of us sat there that day with the stream being brought in by one of the free to air networks. Until that time I’d comfortably say it was as big a moment in my household as was the moon landing not even two years before. This was 'globalism' in its infancy, back in the days when people thought it a good thing. It was big!
Ok, so how does one resolve the problem of sun glare on a black and white broadcast of the Frazier vs Ali fight? Quite simply one has got to love ingenuity. Of course we weren't wealthy enough to have a revolving lounge room and while the old 'Pie TV' had 4 delightful rollers, there just wasn't a shady spot in the sun drenched room to move it to.
One of the three of us, was it the elder, or the younger, or was it just a symbiosis of the collective spirit must have come up with an idea. I felt post the moment that it was as symbolic as Stanley Kubrick's apes
touching the monolith on pre history planet earth. 'No we weren't about to be ear battered with shrill metallic sounds pulsating through our craniums driving us to smash bone upon decaying bone, but daytime television in that household would change for a few months after this until those long overdue green (it was the 70's) curtains were installed to offset the orange (it was the 70's) furniture and fittings of the room.
March 8 at fight time with the call coming in from the celebrated actor Burt Lancaster, and with Arthur Mercante (rip) even then looking old officiating, 3 young boys in a satellite suburban town in Australia watched the fight of the century with a bed-spread draped over both the TV and the heads of these 6' youths. By the end of round 1 marveling at how 'clear' our vision was, we'd forgotten to notice that the perspiration levels were greater than the two fighters battling under the scrutiny of the world's press that night in new York’s Madison square garden. (writer’s note: normal"">it is commonly noted that a person 10 years older than another person can display attributes of being old, thus for 17 year old boys, anything over 30 would have been old, with respects to the Mercante family)
As the fight wore on, and as both fighters began to fatigue beneath the brutal assault on each other so equally did 3 young men begin to exude dehydration, and remember this was pre Gatorade, and rehydrating was probably only a term used by the numerous nurseries that were springing (pardon the pun) up during that expansive residential development period.
It was hot, how hot? Damn hot! Man it was hot, but what else, or what other option was available? None; it was 'the fight or bust' and all of us had ridden the hype of this event since the disgraced former champ was pardoned, and ultimately allowed to fight to normal"">'earn his keep, so to speak'.
The nervous energy underneath the green bed-spread tent still amuses me to this day. from time to time I wonder what would the neighbors have thought had they peered through their uncurtained windows to see
us, and then, such was the appeal of the fight, perhaps they were thinking the same thing, concerned about what we might have thought looking through our window at them doing exactly the 'same thing'!
Simply put it was hell in the ring that night. (or that day in the Antipodes)