Interesting timing: last week Civilta Cattolica (Catholic Civilization), the journal of the Italian Jesuit order that reflects the official view of the Vatican, said boxing goes against “natural and divine” principles, and is a “legalized form of attempted murder, in the short or in the long run,” citing the deaths of hundreds of fighters in the last century, including Leavander Johnson, who died last month in Las Vegas.
The article, “The Immorality of Professional Boxing,” compared the Sweet Science to the bloody gladiator contests in ancient Rome, and said, “From a moral point of view the judgment of boxing can only be gravely and absolutely negative … professional boxing is manipulated by powerful economic groups, which are often ruthless and cruel, and for whom the boxer is not a man but only a machine to make money.”
No Vatican boxing tournament in the offing, I gather.
What a coincidence, then, that The Fight Network — dedicated to “delivering the best of boxing, wrestling, mixed martial arts and related movies, documentaries twenty-four hours a day” — is holding its sold-out official launch party event today in Toronto with “2,000 media, celebrities, suppliers, advertisers and fans,” which will provide a “look into the world of combatant sports and the excitement that The Fight Network is offering to its viewers now and in the future.”
Special guests are an eclectic blend of bashers, including boxing great Larry Holmes, pro wrestling’s Jimmy “The Mouth Of The South” Hart, UFC Champ Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell, and Ultimate Fighter winner Forrest Griffin, K-1 Super Fighters Cung Le and, Rumble On The Rock’s BJ Penn.
No Jesuits on the bill, it appears.
The network’s site screams “All Fights All the Time – Get It On,” and indeed they do. A peek at the network programming schedule:
:00am The Real Catfight – Episode 4
2:30am The Real Catfight – Episode 5
3:00am Orion Boxing – Border Explosion 2
6:00am Fitness Kick
6:30am Fitness Kick
8:00am Best of the Best 3: No Turning Back
Synopsis: A martial arts instructor comes to the defense of a school teacher who has taken a stand against a local white supremacist organization.
Featuring: Gina Gershon, Phillip Lee.
It seems to me that both the Vatican’s and the Fight Network’s views of the world are rather skewed and blindered. For those so gifted and inclined, there are certainly worse and less noble ways to earn a living than professional boxing, although the personal costs are obviously quite high and many of the promoters ARE rapacious scum.
Conversely, man does not live by violence alone and a channel that shows nothing but various manifestations of humans beating the shit out of each other “twenty-four hours a day” might lead the susceptible to conclude that humans beating the shit out of each twenty-four hours a day is a perfectly reasonable social norm, which it is not.
I’m glad the Vatican cares and I admire TFN’s energy and guilelessness, but I wouldn’t want to hang around either corner.