I will not watch Jeff Horn and Anthony Mundine fight one another for a long list of reasons, many of which could be cut-n-pasted from a piece I wrote two years ago when I vowed not to watch Mundine fight Danny Green in Adelaide.
“Ambulance chasing in Adelaide,” I wrote, along with “grotesque pantomime” and “parody of sport”.
Another line that I enjoyed then and which still stands today was: “soul-less lunge to greed and stupidity and publicity-deprivation syndrome”.
And there followed several fruity adjectives to describe the flat-out ridiculous and dangerous idea of two forty-something men taking a pay-day by punching each other in the head.
And Mundine was 41 then.
I’m sure he’s in terrific shape physically, and that’s tremendous. And he could open the greatest celebrity personal training centre Redfern’s ever seen. Maybe one day he will.
For now he’s going to let another man punch him in the head for money. They reckon $2 million.
After tax, what? $1.25 million? It’s not a three-bedroom house in Allambie Heights. It’s chump change.
Ask yourself this: would you take a million dollars if it meant early onset Alzheimer’s?
Boxing causes head injury and causes the brain to bleed and that is bad because later in life men’s brains suffer complications such as that Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy one … and … blah-blah-blah.
You’ve heard this before. We all have. And each time boxing is debated the boxing lobby points to rugby league, and wheels out supportive stats, while the anti-boxing folks point to science, and the studies into the brains of fighters, amateur and professional … and on it will roll.
And Horn and Mundine will fight anyway. And chances are you’re priming up the keyboard to knock out your take on why the wowsers don’t have to watch, they’re grown men making their own decisions in life, much as smokers and drinkers and methamphetamine injectors make choices when the consequences are well known.
And that’s all very well. But facts are good. And fact is: Repeated head injury turns people into stuttering drunks, and worse. It’s a thing. It’s science. It’s fact.
Boxing – and we should separate professional, ten-rounders with three-round Olympic point-scoring and headgear – is borderline human cock-fighting.
The MMA stuff in the cages is the same. Kids in school-grounds are drawn to fights for the same reason – people get off on it.
Fight-fight-fight. It’s a thing. Not a good thing. It’s a guilty pleasure, maybe.
It’s not … it’s not good.
I used to love it. Jeff Fenech’s fights on Wednesday nights, you wouldn’t be anywhere else. It was like State of Origin. Pubs were full.
It was the mid-eighties and we as a country were getting off on Crocodile Dundee and being noticed by America. And there was our Marrickville Mauler belting a succession of Japanese, Thais and Mexicans, and it made us feel good.
And Fenech got so good he went to America and Don King rigged the fight with Azuma Nelson, and the great fat con artist stood mid-ring and said, “We gots to do it again”.
And we seethed, our innocence slayed like harpooned baby Jesus.
But it was all great theatre. And how we bayed for Fenech and later for Kostya Tszyu and the poor bashed up melon of Jeff ‘Hitman’ Harding.
But it was another time. And now we know what we know: being hit in the head a lot causes brain injury and bleeding, and later in life it makes people grow old early and die. Smoking does the same thing. And smoking, we can all agree, one assumes, is bad.
This fight is also not helpful to Australia as a harmonious whole. Because Mundine’s schtick is to fire up a cross-section of Australia who don’t like black blokes who gibber as Mundine gibbers, comparing himself to Muhammad Ali, and all that.
That he prays to Allah rather than the Christian god, though they are the same … thing, entity, deity … does not enamour our Choccie to such as Hanson voters who fear among other things that we’re in danger of being over-run by Muslims, Aborigines or both.
And Mundine knows it. He knows there’s however many hundreds of thousands of drongos who’ll fork out their own actual money to watch someone punch him in the head on pay-per-view. And he sucks them in time and again. And every fight is a dud.
But still, they’ll fight and make their coin because people get off on it.
And it remains a grotesque pantomime – and an ordinary, stupid and dangerous way to make a living.