Boxing – a window into society?

Well – I finally popped my cherry. I have now been to a boxing match! What a glorious spectacle of sportsmen at the pinnacle of fitness and endurance. Having tried ‘boxing’ many years ago and experiencing the shear exhaustion of constant punching – I am astounded by the strength and resilience of these athletes.

But this observation does not concern the sport of boxing per se – instead it concerns the event itself. No mention will be made of the facilities or stadium – although there is a lot on which to ponder in that regard!

Turning up in jeans and T-shirts, my friends and I were conspicuous by our abject lack of ‘peacocking’. I can think of no better term to describe the masses of handsome, muscular young men in modern suits and ties; together with their female counterparts – dressed to kill and ‘up to the nines’ (or perhaps down if you consider the length of some of the skirts!).

It seemed as though these fashionable spectators had arrived at the stadium for the night’s entertainment as a precursor for a ‘night on the tiles’ – and why not? But let us put fashion aside for now – as anyone who knows me will attest – this is not considered to be a forte of mine.

As the alcohol flowed during the supporting bouts to the ‘main event’, the atmosphere became wonderfully more raucous – singing and dancing along to the snippets of music played as interludes between rounds and fights. The ‘whistles of appreciation’ at the models parading the ‘round cards’ became louder too – and the objects of their approval’s smiles became wider.

And then the stadium lights dimmed to roars of anticipation; increasing as the Master of Ceremonies, promoters and officials entered the ring. Unbelievably this crescendo increased further still as the ‘entrance songs’ played whilst the fighters walked to the ring and began to strut – the cacophony reaching its pinnacle as the fighters squared off – seemingly impatient to hear ‘Seconds, out!’

As the fighters faced each other for the first round, there was a subtle shift in atmosphere. Voices of support for their supported boxer sounded almost angry; feral – with a rough gravelling sound to the tone.

The rounds progressed, and with every flurry of punches the roars of anticipation and support became primeval. ‘Go on! Kill him!’ I have omitted the vile expletives to protect your sensitive eyes, dear reader – but I assure you that the venom of their voices matched the vulgarity of the chosen words (you know the particular word I refer to I am sure).

Ultimately brawls broke out at this fight – both in the terraces and not far from ringside either. To my utter dismay, the official fight now took second stage to the brawls erupting around me – with people standing on the chairs to get a better view of the spontaneous mêlées!

The boxing was won when the referee stopped the fight – the defeated warrior deemed to be unable to protect himself or provide any response to the blows reigning down on him. Taking in the enormity and totality of the event I had just witnessed, I wondered whether this ‘umpirical’ intervention marked our only advances since the days of the Coliseum and the Roman Gladiators.

As the circling of the Police helicopter accompanied the departing hordes, my friends and I began our return journey. I have no idea what the city centre bars and clubs witnessed later that night – but I imagine the local Constabulary may have been busy.

What have your experiences been at boxing matches or large sporting events? Do you find the behaviour of the fans is affected by the spectacle? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

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