Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Professional Boxing - Immoral Sport?

I am posting this article in time for Pacquiao-Hatton superfight scheduled early next month. Personally, I never came to like boxing. It's just too physical for me. I prefer self-defense sports like karate or taekwondo. This article discusses the moral issues behind contact sports, boxing in particular, which has become a national affair of most Filipinos whenever their favorite pugilist Manny Pacquiao goes for mega-buck superfights against the world's best boxers. This is not good news for the likes of Pacquiao, etc.; nevertheless, the arguments against this sport are valid, logical, and reasonable. Even a leading Vatican journal (Civilta Cattolica) condemns the sport as "intrinsically immoral." Read on.

An early 1950s boxer Laverne Roach died from injuries sustained in a professional match. This was pugilism's first televised homicide—but not its last. Twelve years later, 15 million television fans had a double treat: they watched challenger Emile Griffith scramble the brains of welterweight champion Benny Paret beyond repair, and then saw a rerun of the climactic moments of this state-supervised slaughter in slow motion.

Thus boxing history repeated itself on March 24, just as it will do in the future until informed and out­raged public opinion demands the abolition of civilized man's most atavistic sport—the manly art of mutual mayhem. For mayhem lies at the heart of the prize­fighting game, as opposed to amateur and collegiate boxing where, whatever the incidence of injury, mishap comes about by accident or human malice, and not by the nature of the art.

Ringside requiems involve a predictable reaction ­ritual. The pugilistic massacre prompts an official in­vestigation that finally leads nowhere. Humanitarians clamor for protective devices or rules that will reduce the likelihood of ring tragedies. A few sports columnists call for the abolition of prizefighting. And increasingly, of late years, moralists and preachers seize on every ring slaughter as a chance to compose a homily on the immorality of the professional boxing game.

This last development is a hopeful one. For if all teachers of morality could convince themselves and their public of the immorality of professional boxing, the days of this brutal pastime would definitely be numbered.

A dozen years ago, in this country, Catholic moral­ists seldom directed their attention to the evils of a professional boxing career. Even if they did so, they were loath to condemn it because it seemed to have wide popular approval and to encourage the ideals of clean, disciplined living and hardy virility.

Today things are very different. Perhaps most of our moralists now think that of its essence professional boxing is irreconcilable with the gospel and natural law, and they do not hesitate to make their opinion known. In this they agree with the Vatican City radio and newspaper, both of which forthrightly condemned professional boxing after the Paret tragedy, not just because it is a hazardous career whose rewards are in­commensurate with its risks, but because it is wrong in its nature, aim and methods.

The basic reason why professional boxing is wrong is easy to grasp. It lies in the uniqueness of this activity: of all contemporaneous forms of sport in which man is pitted against man, professional boxing alone has as its primary and direct object the physical injury of the contestants.

This fact alone sets prizefighting apart from other sports, no matter how risky they are in themselves or how open to human malice. In amateur and collegiate boxing, presumably, the emphasis is on skill and dex­terity, and elaborate precautions are taken to make the danger of real harm remote. But injury in a profes­sional match is no accident. The very nature of the sport is that two career men, under contract, attempt to mutilate each other for gain. The opponents system­atically attack each other's physical features and organs in a mounting crescendo of mayhem that ideally termi­nates in a violent assault on man's most delicate organ, the brain. A successful assault ends in a moment of waking helplessness called a technical knockout, or, better still, a clean KO whose symbol is the supine gladiator with a mild concussion. Any less decisive climax gets short shrift from the gallery and contributes little to a fighter's career.

Thus professional boxing stands condemned even before the statistics are compiled on occasional ring deaths and the all-too-common. The gospel law of love does not permit brethren to exchange wanton violence for mere renown or profit. There is no charity in a licensed assault that unleashes the beast in the boxer and the sadist in the spectator. As for natural justice, we who have no right to mutilate ourselves for external gain certainly cannot endow others with the right to attempt mayhem upon us by virtue of a contract.

We will welcome the day when the American people finally reject professional boxing for good, and inter it by the side of cockfighting, bearbaiting and the pub­lic execution 'of criminals.

(Source: America - The National Catholic Weekly)


  1. You ask Manny Pacquiao. He does not want his children to go on to boxing for a living. Why? First of all, because he as a father, can now afford to feed and educate his children so that they can have a much easier life than a warrior!! Most of these boxers come from poor communities and poor families, like Manny Pacquiao.

    If the Church or the "so-called" Christians detest boxing, or other murderous sports (karate and taekwondo included), they must, first and foremost, work to alleviate or eliminate the root causes which push these "warriors" to embrace such kind of a life or livelihood!! In other words, work to eliminate poverty and injustice.

  2. Now this is a good debatable post. I could give some points:

    Professional boxing, IMO, is a something like a mild gladiator sport, but i think one of its goals is to keep its contenders as safe as it could get.

    Manny's intention is not to mutilate Marquez, or Dela Hoya, or Hatton. Yes, he earns millions of dollars, but as seen in public, he puts first bringing glory to God and raising the esteem of the Filipino people.

    Let's look at the CCC, Article 4, The Morality of Human Acts. We have 3 elements of morality - object (act), end (intention), and circumstances.

    Of course, bad intention is automatically immoral, such as feeding program in order to get personal fame and fortune.

    Here's another rule: The end does not justify the means. No matter how good your intentions are, if it causes harm to innocent people, it is considered immoral.

    Boxers' goal is to incapacitate the contender by damaging the physical integrity of their opponent. In itself, boxing is immoral. But considering Manny's disposition as a professional and as a good sportsman, he is not in the immoral state. Though this is subject to relativism, let us consider boxing as normally immoral. Boxing officials have yet to come with new ruling to safeguard boxers' health, so that boxing would not be considered immoral.