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"Boxing is a business."
April 16, 2014 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Why I Fixed Fights.
posted by Rangeboy (19 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like boxing, and I'm often angry with myself for liking it. This very well put together piece shines a harsh light on some things about the sport that I'd always kind of known but had pushed into a shadowy corner of my mind.

Thanks for sharing it.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:56 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


man one heck of a read. I've considered boxing to be, well, corrupt may or may not be right, but fixed doesn't do it justice either.

I wonder if 10-20 years from now we'll see the same about MMA. The comments about how you can't get someone to the championship belt fight with out a lot damage, so you navigate their leadup to give as little damage as possible seems like it'd be true there as well.
posted by k5.user at 12:02 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Boxing is a [largely fraudulent] business.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:03 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


I'm ashamed to admit that I had no idea. Sure, there were some really screwed up, mis-matched bouts, and I accepted that, but it never occured to me that the damn thing was fixed.

So, what's the deal with Klitchko's glass jaw. Was that for real (it really didn't look real) I mean, that was too amazingly weird not to be real. Right?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:19 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


"As a rule, you don't tell the intended winner of a fixed fight that the outcome is rigged. It causes him to fight unnaturally, and the fix is easier to spot."

Interesting. The way boxing is set up with such a high premium placed on spotless records and fighting narratives that hinge on one or two events coupled with the high degree of damage done... it makes total sense that it's rigged in this way.

Logically, if you had the capability to control who your upward trajectory fighter was fighting... you would absolutely game the system. So he did.

This is really all about how poorly regulated and managed from a top-down view boxing is.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:22 PM on April 16


Wrestling finally makes sense to me.
posted by motty at 12:39 PM on April 16


People are already talking about UFC this way.
posted by mkb at 12:44 PM on April 16


People are already talking about UFC this way.

Shields' release is really not in the same vein at all. He was cut because he makes OK money (in MMA terms) and is fan hostile in terms of excitement. (He's also one of the best submission grapplers in North America.)

MMA has separate issues from boxing; low pay, UFC monopoly, shitty managers, etc, but the fixing issue highlighted in the article is not one of them. Showcase fights happen, but prospects are also thrown to the wolves well before they're close to ready.
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:03 PM on April 16


Sorry, posted too soon. To further elaborate, Jake Shields was cut because he does not fight cheap and his wins and losses are never exciting, they're grinding, tense affairs that the average MMA fan has no interest in — and neither does the UFC to be honest.
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:05 PM on April 16


Seems like boxing movies have lied to me! You always have these situations where the idea of getting paid (or corerced) to lose is some huge surprise and moral dilemma. This actually makes more sense.
Boxers are born poor and they usually die poor. For their short spell in the business, they inhabit a place in its professional hierarchy that all but guarantees they'll remain poor even during their active careers. Boxers often can't negotiate or even understand their own contracts. Of course, most contracts are unintelligible except to lawyers, but boxers typically have little education and are often functionally illiterate.
[...]
In the real world, boxers and their managers pre-arranging the outcome of fights, working collusively against a hostile system, makes sense. Fixing fights, even at the expense of the public, isn't just good business. It's a survival strategy for the disenfranchised class in boxing: the fighters themselves.
I'd like to be a boxing fan, but I never have been. At this point I feel like it's a sport that could basically die off within my lifetme. At least to the extent that this is a first-world country and prospective (competitors? fodder?) have better, or any other, options available.
posted by hap_hazard at 1:11 PM on April 16



This is the best movie about a fixed fight ever made.

It takes place in real time, from about 9:00 pm - 10:15 pm. The match, and its aftermath, are incredibly tense. A terribly underrated film noir gem.
posted by the bricabrac man at 1:23 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


It's gettin' so a businessman can't expect no return from a fixed fight. Now, if you can't trust a fix, what can you trust? For a good return, you gotta go bettin' on chance - and then you're back with anarchy, right back in the jungle.
posted by bukvich at 1:33 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Oh, so that's why boxing became a show of a couple of sweaty, sleepy guys leaning on each other, and why I stopped watching 40 years ago.
posted by telstar at 9:51 PM on April 16


Randomly, the author's also a jazz prodigy and an avant-garde musician.
posted by klangklangston at 11:13 PM on April 16


This piece comes off as a diffident anti-apologia. "Fixing fights isn't just about me making a buck, you see," he tries to say in the The "What We Gonna Do Now?" Present section, "it's about those poor disenfranchised boxers. You can't be morally opposed to fixing fights because it helps the lowest among us!"

I boiled in livid bafflement the first couple times I read the piece, but now I understand that he is able to peddle this sophistry merely because he stacks the moral deck in his own favor. He's right, fixing fights helps the boxers...if the predatory economic system of boxing-as-it-is-now remains in place. His moral arithmetic makes sense if and only if we ignore other possible economic structures for boxing, such as one that created a "middle class" of professional boxers instead of a large swath of working poor boxers-and-managers alongside a tiny, enormously wealthy elite of the lucky-and-talented-and-hardworking-and-conniving boxers-and-managers.

If boxing had more a equitable economic structure, then the economic wrongness of fixing fights would more closely match the aesthetic wrongness of fixing fights.
posted by daveliepmann at 1:31 AM on April 17


"He's right, fixing fights helps the boxers...if the predatory economic system of boxing-as-it-is-now remains in place. His moral arithmetic makes sense if and only if we ignore other possible economic structures for boxing, such as one that created a "middle class" of professional boxers instead of a large swath of working poor boxers-and-managers alongside a tiny, enormously wealthy elite of the lucky-and-talented-and-hardworking-and-conniving boxers-and-managers."

Except that fixing fights also keeps boxers from getting too brained, too fast. And that there doesn't seem to be a way to establish a middle class of boxers, really. Careers are too short.

And really, the whole sport is in decline. I can't imagine too many more multi-millionaire boxing celebs.
posted by klangklangston at 9:10 AM on April 17


This article is an eye opener. I stopped supporting two adults hurting each other for sport a long time ago, this only reinforces it, but the way the author goes about telling it, and how different fixing is from his perspective than compared to the general public's perception, even if it might just be cognitive dissonance on the author's part, is fascinating and makes a lot of sense. Always stack the odds in your favour as best you can.

I boiled in livid bafflement the first couple times I read the piece, but now I understand that he is able to peddle this sophistry merely because he stacks the moral deck in his own favor.

I don't think he's saying the system works, he's saying that fixing fights isn't just about the money or the outcome, and that its real goal is to accelerate advancement in less damaging way than it might otherwise be necessary.
posted by furtive at 10:20 AM on April 17


Regarding some Are you telling me boxing is fixed? remarks...

I am forced to accept that these words were not said sarcastically, but in sincerity. Still, it's like someone saying, "So you're saying the Teamsters have a history with the mob?". It doesn't sound like it could be said seriously.

Yes, folks: activities people gamble heavily on are generally fixed... barring heavy, constant, and very transparent government supervision.

Now, who's in the mood for a fair and democratic election of the next President of the United States?
posted by IAmBroom at 1:44 PM on April 17


This is one of the most enlightening pieces I've read on any sport in a long time. Thanks for posting it.
posted by languagehat at 2:44 PM on April 17


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