Friday, August 30, 2013

Ring Rust

I came home on a recent Friday night, picked up the remote and channel surfed until I came upon a classic fight program.

The footage was grainy and I recognized the voices of Marv Albert and Ferdie Pacheco, the “Fight Doctor,” who had called a lot of fights together during the 1980s.

I was a big boxing fan back then. Inspired by Rocky, Hard Times, and other movies, I imagined myself as some kind of junior badass putting up my dukes and taking on the world. Now, of course, I know much better.

Boxing and mixed martial arts matches are about the only sporting events I watch, even though I know the fighters are risking brain damage with every blow they absorb.

I must say it’s getting harder for me to enjoy these fights because, as I get older, I realize how fragile human beings really are, no matter how fearsome they may look.

I’ve been around long enough to see talented young athletes battered into feeble, overgrown children from years of head trauma that they suffered in the ring.

I was starting to feel anxious as I watched this particular bout, but it had nothing to do with the health and welfare of the two combatants. As usual, I was concerned about myself.

I knew that I should’ve been out doing something instead of sitting in front of the TV by myself on a freaking Friday night.

But I was tired after a long week at work, and I was worried about aggravating my back condition, and it looked like rain, and why go out when I have the latest DVD from Netflix and this old timey fight to watch?

When it comes to making excuses, I’m the heavyweight champ.

Then I caught the names of the fighters--Rocky Lockridge and Wilfredo Gomez--and something tugged at my brain.

Throw In The Towel

Why did they sound familiar? Yes, I enjoy boxing, but I’m not a statistics freak who can tell you the color of a fighter’s favorite trunks or how many times he spat out his mouthpiece in the course of his career.
Then the memory cells started to warm up. I had actually seen this fight in real time, way the hell back in 1985.

I had listened to Marv and the Fight Doctor give the color commentary back when Reagan was occupying the White House and these fighters were actually punching each other.

I was five years out of college when Lockridge and “Bazooka” first squared off. Now their match was on a classic fights program. And I was watching it on TV…again.

No, I thought, I’m not doing this. A group of local business people were sponsoring a street fair a few blocks from my house. There was going to be live music, belly-dancing and tons of food. It sounded like fun.

I decided I should go. Yes, I was definitely going to go. Right after this round ended…

Well, the round ended, the next one began and I was still watching TV. The bell rang again, another commercial came on and I hadn’t moved an inch.

Hell, I thought, I’ve come this far; why not watch the fight until it’s over?

And that’s when I picked up the remote and thumbed the picture into oblivion.

However the fight had ended, who had beaten whom, it all happened nearly 30 years ago. It was ancient history. I wanted to be a part of what was happening now. And out the door I went.

For the record, Rocky Lockridge, a one time super featherweight champion, lost that fight against Wilfredo Gomez. He later developed a drug problem, suffered a stroke, and became homeless. A scene of him sobbing on a reality show became a rather heartless Internet meme known as “Best Cry Ever.”

Gomez, frequently mentioned as one of the best Puerto Rican boxers of all time, also had troubles with drugs. But the three-time world champion cleaned himself up and became a trainer.

I learned all of this a few days later when I did a Google search. But on that particular Friday night, I had left my TV behind.

It actually did rain; I ended up calling it a night fairly early and I came back home to resume my place in front of the TV.

But at least I was out among the living for a little while, instead of staring mindlessly at the past.

I'm going to be taking some time off. I'll have limited computer access, so all of you please take care and I'll see you soon.


Ron said...

"even though I know the fighters are risking brain damage with every blow they absorb."

OMG, I know Rob, I used to sit sometimes and watch fighting matches on the weekends when I was a kid with my father, and would turn my head and hide my eyes behind my hands with each head blow and blood splurt.

I know after years of doing that it had to have caused some kind of brain damage.

I can still remember watching "Raging Bull" with DiNero YEARS ago and all those bloody flight scenes. And thank god it was shot in black and white, so you really did have to see RED blood - HA!

Glad you decided to go out and enjoy the evening. I've been doing a lot of that myself. I've been taking walks around the city at night with camera, enjoying the rest of the summer.

Listen, enjoy your time off, buddy. Have a SUPER time whatever you're doing and take care. We'll see ya when you get back!

You'll be missed!

Rob K said...

Hey, Ron.

Yeah, boxing is a pretty sick way to make a living. Even when you win, you lose. And the scenes in "Raging Bull" were horrifying.

Take care, buddy, and I'll see you soon!

Anonymous said...

I am proud of you for being able to leave that TV behind. I find all too often I have a very hard time doing that. I want to have a "life" but I find much of it behind a computer or tv screen. Welp, at least its something! Enjoy your time off my friend! You will be missed!

Bijoux said...

I'm glad you got out. Hope your time away is refreshing. Hugs!

CrystalChick said...

A street fair! Oh, I'd have gone to that for sure.

I watched a few boxing matches years ago but have no desire to see one now. I guess in all sports the athletes bodies take a beating but boxing just seems much more brutal.
The last sporting event I tuned in to was just yesterday when Diana Nyad reached land in Florida after swimming from Cuba. Now that was amazing!! I was so happy for her that I cried! She never lost sight of her goal. It took many years of training and many attempts but she did it!

Enjoy your time off. See you when you return.

Rob K said...

Thanks everyone! Back in town and ready to get back to work. As soon as the Xanax wears off! Miss you all!