Sports are compelling because they are metaphors for life. But, as Joyce Carol Oates pointed out in her book, "On Boxing," that relationship is reversed in the Sweet Science: life is a metaphor for boxing.
If you're inexplicably drawn to the fight game (perhaps ashamed to admit it to those who aren't) it may be because, within the terrarium of civilized urban life, much of the daily struggle is merely an abstraction. If what you do every day is a mirror for the truth about life, boxing is the real thing. Because, as Oates said much more eloquently than I ever could, in a boxing match, there aren't any real time-outs, field goals or huddles. Yes, there is the minute or so between rounds, but when the bell rings, there is only an impossibly long three-minute collision of wills, styles, and skill, a brutal exposition on what the philosopher Schopenhauer called "wille zum leben": the will to life.
How many brands do you see in boxing? Well, of course there's Everlast, and Budweiser, I think, and Tecate is in there. But since the night in March 1962 when Emile Griffith sent Kid Benny Paret to his death in the ring, sponsors stay away.
If life is a metaphor for boxing, then all magazines are merely metaphors for The Ring. The Ring is the bible of boxing. It has been for decades, and while the sport is lousy with belts, titles, idiotic rankings, The Ring is the one place you can go if you want to get anything like a legitimate ranking of who the top ten or so fighters are in each weight class, more or less.
Even if you have never seen a fight and regard it as the brutal vestige of gladiatorial battle that it certainly is, you should read The Ring at least once. You haven't lived if you haven't. You only think you have.
Editorial changes at the 86-year-old magazine are in geological time. Nigel Collins holds forth as editor in chief, as he has since 1985, taking over from previous editor and publisher Bert Sugar, who acquired it in 1979. Now it is owned by boxing great Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Enterprises subsidiary Sports and Entertainment Publications, LLC. Hey, but at least it stays in the boxing family. It wasn't bought by, say, Conde Nast, not that they'd ever touch it.
Boxing's brutality of course, wouldn't go well with Travel + Leisure, which I use as a wrapper for The Ring when I'm in the subway, so people don't consider me a savage.
The mag's photography is great, really capturing the best moments of a fight. Those are the moments I miss I'm when watching a fight on, say, HBO, busily trying not to listen to commentators Jim "Lamps" Lampley, and the over-ornate Larry Merchant -- who speaks like Horatio Alger on Jolt, and that ain't a compliment.
And there's the endless speculating that fight fans love: who should fight whom, who's the next Manny Pacquiao, will Ricky Hatton claw his way back to something like pre-Mayweather glory when he fights Paulie Malignaggi? Can Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik beat the ageless B-Hop when they meet on the boardwalk this fall? And, as this month's cover asks, does anyone really want to climb into the ring with Antonio Margarito after his knockout of the redoubtable Miguel Cotto -- who threw everything at Margarito but a kitchen sink and an ICBM and still got knocked out.
And, of course there are the retrospectives, the fantasy pairings, and, in October's issue, the Probables, Maybes, No Chances and Too soon To Tells. Also in this month's issue -- and, we're told, in later issues -- Bernard Hopkins writes a tutorial on how to block punches (or, "make him miss, make him pay") which is useful information for those of us who don't fight professionally, but frequent bars.
Publishedby: Sports and Entertainment Publications, LLC