Tag Archives: Sugar Ray Robinson

The Stories of Baseball

For me, the sport in and of itself is not the draw. The draw is the people. It’s why boxing always held more interest for me than any team sport. It was the individual who made the sport what it was. The fire and sheer ballsyness of Jack Johnson, the lightning style and class of Sugar Ray Robinson, the sturdy and unrelenting force of Rocky Marciano. They defined their sport and their sport defined who they were simultaneously.

With boxing (or any sport that’s solely about the individual), it’s easy and clear to see the story of that person, to see the thrills and the heartaches and the failures and successes of that one person. They win or lose on the basis of their own strengths and weaknesses and it’s plain for everyone to see.

But with baseball, that’s a far more murky prospect. It’s not about the one, but the many and all those singular stories are lost in the shuffle. At least, that’s what I thought. But as I learn more and more about the history of the sport, I’m starting to hear the same amazing and terrible stories that I heard when I read about boxing: The sad and terrible monster that was Ty Cobb, whose talent and downfall both came from the same rage and feelings of  inadequacy, the talented and uneducated Shoeless Joe Jackson who threw it all away for the promise of $20,000 and Christy Mathewson, who never went to war, but lost his way of life and then his life to poison gas anyway.

It’s the stories that make any sport go beyond the confines of being a simple game played by talented men and women. It’s their lives that make their victories more than just points on a scoreboard. It’s always about the stories.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Sporting: Baseball, Boxing and Sports Not Starting with a B

Ringside Fascination

This is going to sound a little bit silly, but I’m not sure why I want to box. I have no clue where my fascination in the sport comes from. I’m not sure why I’ve read two books on boxers (Unforgivable Blackness and Sweet Thunder) and ordered two more (Hard Times Man and King of the World). I’m not sure why I enjoy watching fights that are a century old and especially when I know the outcome already.

Normally, it doesn’t bother me too much when I don’t know where my interests spring from. “I wonder why I love zombies,” I’ll think to myself and then go back to watching the Dawn of the Dead remake for the tenth time. But now that I’ve actually decided to step into the ring, I feel like maybe I should take a step back and look at what’s drawing me into boxing before I let someone rap me upside the head a few times.

Partly, I can’t help but admire boxers like Jack Johnson and Sugar Ray Robinson. Both were men who fought with their thinkin’ smarts just as much as with their gloves. And Jack Johnson did whatever the hell he wanted, in a time when doing so could have gotten him a lynched. He denied the rest of the world.

They both acted fearless, going back time and again to hurt and be hurt. And that’s damned appealing: folks who meet up with a brick wall and say, “Hell with you wall” and knock it right down.

Couple that with my desire to get fit and fighting trim and I guess it starts to make some kind of sense. But I want to go to a fight. One where I don’t know the outcome ahead of time. Maybe I’ll find a way to work that in before I put on some gloves myself.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Sporting: Baseball, Boxing and Sports Not Starting with a B