It’s Day 278 of 15 Days to Flatten the Curve and Day 38 of Ohio’s 21-day WuFlu Curfew.
Deb and I are fine on this Boxing Day.
Yes, I know the observance has nothing to do with The Sweet Science. And I’m gonna talk about that anyway.
In my youth, boxing was a thing — a sports thing, a cultural thing, a thing that had everyone taking sides and placing bets. A major heavyweight bout got every bit of the attention accorded a World Series seventh game or (later) a Super Bowl. And there was no bigger fight — at the time, arguably no bigger sporting event — than when “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier met Muhammad Ali at Madison Square Garden in “The Fight of The Century.”
I was an eighth-grader in the spring of 1971, a kid with no particular athletic prowess growing up in the Heartland. That meant two things.
First, as an adolescent male it meant that the fighter I backed would be my surrogate, my champion, fighting for me. Second, my traditional upbringing made it pretty clear that I couldn’t get behind a loud-mouthed draft-dodger who’d converted to Islam and changed his name.
Frazier, all the way.
The Fight of The Century lived up to its unprecedented hype and went the 15-round distance. Early in the final round Frazier dealt Ali a spectacular left hook, putting the showboat down for only the third time in his then-undefeated career.
Frazier won a unanimous decision, laying undisputed claim to all four heavyweight belts. Back in rural Ohio, I had my bragging rights.
From that point the sport declined, eventually becoming an unrecognizable circus. Boxing no longer carries the cultural import it had 50 years ago — not even the Rocky movies could save it. These days I have no interest in so-called “ultimate” fighting, nor do I care to watch women punch each other in the face.
For me, boxing is frozen in time, stopping the moment Ali hit the canvas on March 8, 1971.
The late Charles Krauthammer never seemed to be reliably conservative enough to win favor with many on the Right. There’s no denying, however, that the man was a towering intellect and a thoughtful observer of life, culture and politics.
Listening to an interview with his son yesterday I was reminded of a column the elder Krauthammer had written for The Washington Post in 2014. I’ll close today’s blog with an excerpt from “Thought police on patrol.”
“…The left is entering a new phase of ideological agitation — no longer trying to win the debate but stopping debate altogether, banishing from public discourse any and all opposition.
“The proper word for that attitude is totalitarian. It declares certain controversies over and visits serious consequences — from social ostracism to vocational defenestration — upon those who refuse to be silenced.”
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay free.