When They Make Harvard Tuition-Optional, Then We Can Talk Banning Boxing

Consistently, there is always a batch of people out there, usually ones with a more than comfortable income and cushy station in life, who opine that boxing should be banned.

It’s too brutal…all those punches to the head…it’s too savage. Why do we allow it!

First off, I say when I meet one of these people, here’s something you must understand. The Floyd Mayweathers, and Mike Tysons and Muhammad Alis and Evander Holyfields aren’t like you and me.

They are built differently.

Not so much bodily, as much as mindset. They crave competition, and of an extreme nature. They want to test themselves far beyond limits you or I could handle. And they crave a most physical sort of test of their worth. It is human nature, for most of us, to avoid contact, draw back from it. They are the opposite, they seek out confrontation and are willing to absorb blows as they attempt to land more telling ones. They are not, I tell the abolitionists, like you and me.

Furthermore, I inform the dubious party, school isn’t for everyone.

I know you went to Groton and then Cornell and interned at NBC and now do quite well on Wall Street separating suckers from their savings, but not everyone is built for school.

It bores them to tears…and, some of them, is beyond frustrating. Their brains aren’t pea-sized, but they sometimes don’t work like yours. They want to use their body like a machine and sitting at a desk and memorizing facts and figures hours upon hours strikes them as pointless and worthless. They were born, they feel, or they discover, as Evander Holyfield did as a teen, that they are on this Earth to fight, to be a FIGHTER.

Hey, when they make Harvard tuition optional and have courses for guys who hate studying and want to use their bodies in a righteous way to earn a living, then maybe we can revisit the banning boxing idea. But until then, know that boxing is a net positive, it welcomes with open arm societal castoffs, malcontents, head-cases and those headed for a sad and violent end. And it gives them structure, and teaches them discipline and goal-setting and managing emotions and a dozen other positive things.

Evander Holyfield, the living legend, now working as a boxing promoter, told listeners of the Everlast TALKBOX podcast how and why he got deeper into boxing. “I think “Rocky” (the film starring Sylvester Stallone, released on Nov. 21, 1976) had just come out, and I was running, and they told me I couldn’t be Rocky, because I was black.” Holyfield said. “But when I seen the Spinks’ win gold medals, I realized I could make the Olympic team.”

He was thinking this could be a path for him, but conventional wisdom was and is that we go to school, get good marks, and the rest will take care of itself. Tell that to the 20-50 years olds who hold student debt of $50,000-$100,000 who see AI creeping in to steal more good jobs every month…

And Holyfield, he knew school wasn’t going to be his ticket to success. But what then? Boxing, it hit him like a welcome thunderbolt. “If it wasn’t for that television, me seeing them guys! When I came up, anybody getting on TV was important! You mean to tell me, when I turn 17, I could be on TV!? It was my goal to get on TV! I did it, at 19. My one top role model? It was my mom. I tell people she really was “The Real Deal. She just didn’t know. I became what I am because I did what she asked me to do!”

Check my Twitter feed, for another Talkbox episode that just dropped, a bonus ep, featuring a 7-0 boxer who just might be a future star. Yep, another guy who found in boxing a welcoming place, just in time, because he was headed down a dark path.


Michael Woods
About the Author:

Michael Woods. Host, TALKBOX podcast, powered by EVERLAST; 1st VP, Boxing Writers Association of America; is my site