Boxing in the Time of Covid
By Richard E. Baker on August 9, 2020
TV started to pay big money. Then covid hit. Everyone seemed confused. (Richard E. Baker)
In the 1950’s boxing took a slump. Television had taken over the live venues. Live fights became fewer and fewer. As trainer Whitey Bimstein said, “Ain’t no one going to pay for sompem he can get for free.” Many boxing people felt the talent dropped. Without local shows boxers had no way of learning the trade. Bimstein said, “Usta be a fighter needed 50 bouts before he could fight for a championship. Now they fight for them on television after 10 or fifteen fights; and they don’t know nothing.”
There seemed to be no end of television boxing. Bouts were featured almost every night of the week. The ironic pat is the boxers often earned less money then they did on live shows. Because there were so few opportunities for fights many boxers did not train properly. Keeping in shape with no chance of a fight was difficult and boxing continued to slide. The boxers started looking bad, television was saturated with poor fights, viewership started to decline and boxing was back in a slump.
The casinos started to bring boxing back. More and more small shows started to appear. The boxers started looking better and superstars emerged. TV started to pay big money. Then covid hit. Everyone seemed confused, especially the sports world. Experts had no ideas how to bring back various sports. Boxing was one of the first sports to find a solution. When I mentioned their success to a friend he said, “Come on, those dumb-ass boxing people can’t figure out anything.”
This is a person who thinks that beating a defenseless little white ball around with a club is a competitive and exciting sport. I suspect that when he really wants to spice up his life he has oatmeal for breakfast or brings out a bowtie to wow the ladies before they go out to see the newest Disney animated flick. His sport does not have enough balls for me.
Only people necessary to the fight allowed
No fans allowed
All teams tested prior to traveling
All participant tested upon arrival
Tested again before weigh-in
Temperatures taken prior to entering the ring
Masks required for everyone except fighters and referees
Announcers, judges, etc. required to maintain social distancing.
I was fortunate to be in the Benavides gym as David Benavides was tested for his August 15 PBC/Showtime fight against Roamer Angulo. This was the first step of the protocols. A registered package from the appropriate boxing authorities had been sent to him. The testing materials for the entire team were included. A cell phone with the video running was set on a stand. A voice emerged from the phone.
“David, show me the unopened package.”
David lifted out one of the packages. He held it in front of the phone.
“Now listen carefully,” the phone said.
The phone now went through all the steps. He had to tear open the pouch a certain way, hold a vial in his left hand, open the lid with his right, remove the swab and place it in his left hand with the vial, replace the lid with his right. Everything had to be in view of the camera. He had to keep the vial in his left hand and, with his right, guide the long handled swab down his right nostril stopping just short of his rectum. He then had to pull out the swab and repeat the process on the left side. He placed the swab in the left hand with the vial. With his right hand he again removed the lid then placed the swab inside and bent the swab’s handle until it broke. The lid was replaced and sealed. The vial was placed into a package and sealed. The upcoming fight seemed easy compared to this. The process had to be repeated several more times at the venue.
These testing procedures, and the once daemon of boxing, television, have placed boxing in the forefront of live sports. Boxing lives and should draw new fans. Perhaps the “dumb asses” of boxing can help the government with a plan. They cannot seem to do it on their own.