What Happened To Boxing’s Golden Age? A Freakonomics Quorum

INSERT DESCRIPTIONBruce Silverglade at Gleason’s Gym, Brooklyn, NY

Sports fan or not, chances are you’ve heard of Sugar Ray Robinson, George Foreman, and Rocky Marciano.

But unless you follow boxing, you probably haven’t heard of Antonio Margarito, who recently beat Miguel Cotto to become a three-time welterweight champion.

This disparity may explain why boxing isn’t as popular as other U.S. sports today, writes East Side Boxing‘s Aaron King:

… [a friend of mine] loves all sports, including boxing … I asked him why he didn’t enjoy the sport as much as he did others, and he gave me a short response. “I don’t see the fighters on SportsCenter.”

So why aren’t we hearing boxers’ names alongside the likes of Brett Favre and Leon Powe?

We gathered a group of people who fight and/or know the sport well — Bob Margolis, Bruce Silverglade, Kasia Boddy, and Andre Henry — and asked them the following questions:

Will boxing ever again see a golden age in popularity, comparable to football and baseball today?

Why are the 1920’s often referred to as a golden age for the sport?

Why is modern-day boxing compared to horse racing?

(The two were often legalized together.)

Here are their responses. Feel free to share your theories as well.

Bruce Silverglade, president of Gleason’s Gym, Brooklyn (former training headquarters for Muhammad Ali), former president of the Metropolitan Amateur Boxing Federation and chairman of the National Junior Olympic Committee, matchmaker, promoter, and booking agent.

“Since we are changing from one group of athletes (blacks) to others (Hispanics and Eastern Europeans), we are on down time. When the transition is complete the chances are better that the superstar will be there.”

I know that everything goes in cycles. There will be another golden age just because it will happen.

Boxing is still popular in the United States though we have slipped from the levels of the past. This is due to competition from other sports. When there was a smaller baseball season and a smaller football season and no other major sport, boxing ruled. Now that the major sports have expanded and a huge variety of other sports are available for viewing, boxing is getting squeezed out.

The nature of boxing prohibits it from being like other sports. A boxer only fights once, twice, or maybe three times a year. Their audience can’t match the audience of the N.Y. Yankees that play 162 times a year. However, when the exciting boxer has a date, he garners a huge one night audience. The statistics for Pay-Per-View bear this out. The largest audiences for any PPV shows are always boxing.

We are getting many Eastern Europeans into the sport. They are the latest group of immigrants. Some are talented and if one or two superstars emerge the golden age will be here.

The thing that excites the public is talent. If a boxer is talented, he is exciting and people want to follow him. Half the people love him and want him to win and half the people hate him and want him to lose. But they all watch and follow his career. There is always a possibility for a superstar. You can not predict when he will arrive. Since we are changing from one group of athletes (blacks) to others (Hispanics and Eastern Europeans), we are on down time. When the transition is complete the chances are better that the superstar will be there.

Marketing always helps. But it really comes down to the boxer. If the boxer has talent and is exciting the marketing will spread the word. If the boxer is not talented and exciting the people will not continue to tune in.

Boxing can be seen on TV seven nights a week, 52 weeks a year. That isn’t too bad.

Boxing has several parts to it: Professional, which has some excitement and is on TV all the time, amateur, which is exciting but has very little viewership (there will be coverage of boxing in the Olympics), and recreational boxing which is bursting at the seams. Every gym in America today offers boxing classes. This growth in popularity has happened over the past 15 years.

The golden age of boxing that you refer to in your question, 1920, is only one of many golden ages. The late 1700’s produced a golden age in America when the European (especially English) boxers brought the sport to our shores. The mid and later 1800’s had a tremendous amount of boxing all across America. Since the 1960’s we have had the Muhammad Ali era, The Sugar Ray Leonard era, and the Mike Tyson era. Yes, the 1920’s was an exciting time for boxing with the great influx of immigrants to The United States. The era produced more Jewish champions than any other sport. The Irish and Italians also excelled.

In conclusion, I would like to state that boxing will be around long after the other sports are done away with. When there were the first three men on earth, two of them got into a fight and the third cheered them on. The same thing will happen when there are only three men left on earth again.

I have heard the sport of boxing being compared to the sport of horse racing. This reference is not especially directed at modern-day boxing. Usually the reference has to do with the boxer being treated like a horse.

The boxer, usually, has very little to say about when he fights, who he fights, how often he fights, how much he will earn per fight, or anything else about his career. Also, like a horse, anything can happen on a given day … I think this type of comparison is disrespectful to the boxer.

Andre Henry, the 2007 141 lb. Open NY Metro Champion and 141 lb. Open Silver Gloves winner in the Daily News Golden Gloves, a first degree black belt in a hybrid kick boxing style, and a black belt in Judo and Ju Jitsu.

“The only way we can increase the popularity of boxing is to take small steps and inform one person at a time.”

I don’t believe that boxing will ever be able to compare in popularity to baseball or football. America was built on these sports — even soccer has a hard time competing. as far as boxing is concerned, we have to first try to open the eyes of people who are against boxing.

To some boxing is a sport that’s too barbaric and should be banned from television; where I can personally say that boxing has saved my life and turned my life around completely.

Boxing is a sport where two athletes are trying to out think each other like a game of chess, trying hard to set the other person up for checkmate.

In chess we use pawns and various other pieces to control the middle of the board. In boxing we use our jab along with other punches to control the tempo of the match. When you look outside the box and look at the bigger picture, boxing is a sport that brings out the best in an individual in all aspects of their life.

The only way we can increase the popularity of boxing is to take small steps and inform one person at a time. Unfortunately good news doesn’t spread as quickly as bad news.

INSERT DESCRIPTIONImage from Boxing: A Cultural History, Advertisement for “TV Fights,” The Ring, February 1955

Kasia Boddy, English teacher at University College, London and author of Boxing: A Cultural History.

“The myth of a golden age requires a consensus about what and who matter. Within boxing, there is no such consensus.”

The 1920’s were referred to as a golden age of sport in general, and of boxing in particular after the twenties were over. In other words, the idea of golden ages is inevitably a nostalgic one.

There have been golden ages of boxing since the 3rd century A.D. when Philostratus looked back to the good old days before “the energetic became sluggards, the hardened became weak, and Sicilian gluttony gained the upper hand.” In the 1950’s, The New Yorker‘s A.J. Liebling wrote wistfully that the arrival of televised boxing marked the end of a “heroic cycle” (which he located in the 1930’s and 40’s). Today the period most keenly remembered is that of the late 1960’s and early 70’s, a time dominated by Muhammad Ali; a time, as one documentary put it, “when we were kings.” The [era of the] late 70’s and early 80’s is another candidate for some.

Yet certain factors mark out the 1920’s. The major difference between boxing before 1920 and afterwards was that it became legal, and once legal it could become big business.

At the heart of the business was Madison Square Garden, which, in close partnership with the Hearst Corporation, made boxing fashionable. The sports pages of national newspapers were first introduced by Hearst in 1895; by 1929, research by the American Society of Newspaper Editors revealed, one out of four readers bought a paper for the sports page. The editors voted Jack Dempsey the “greatest stimulation to circulation in 20 years.”

Boxing also benefited from the development of radio into a mass medium. The first title fight to be broadcast live was the 1921 Dempsey-Carpentier fight — the first million-dollar gate but also a calculated mismatch. And this was not the only respect in which 20’s boxing was merely gold-plated. The moment Dempsey won his title in 1919 he announced that he would “draw the color line.” There was no money to be had in matching Dempsey against black opponents such as Harry Wills who might have actually beat him.

Will boxing ever again see a golden age ?

I don’t think so.

Today it’s hard to think of any sport in terms of golden ages. The myth of a golden age requires a consensus about what and who matter. Within boxing, there is no such consensus.

The television era has seen the proliferation of governing bodies and “Alphabet Titles.” Only a limited constituency of hard-core boxing fans care to keep track. More generally, boxing now competes in an over-crowded sports market. No single sport or sportsman can lay claim to the kind of fame possible in the 20’s.

Boxing and horse racing developed in parallel in 18th-century England. Both appealed to wealthy aristocrats who liked to gamble. With large bets came the need for rules. In boxing, these first came in 1743; after 1746, gamblers adopted the notion of horse handicapping and began to divide boxers into weight categories.

Bob Margolis, content manager at Thomson-Reuters and jazz guitarist who has trained for boxing at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn for 18 months.

“I wonder if the American audience in this current day and age wants to deal with something as raw as the sweet science.”

Considering the intermixing of corporate America and football and baseball, [boxing] reaching their level of popularity is like a third party gaining the presidency!

When the sport becomes regulated and the point system changed, then it has a shot. By rarely having one “undisputed” champion in a given weight class, the titles awarded become meaningless.

Why not regulate the types of gloves used and other external factors that can influence a fighter or the fight’s outcome? It’s not that different from seeing what happens when the free market runs unwatched — a mess which hurts many. So imagine what goes on in a sport as violent and on the edge as boxing. How many fighters need to be hospitalized after a 12 round fight?

The amateur game is relatively safe compared to football, but also soccer! So, if the idea that a jab counts as much as a powerful shot, then the strategy, movement, and nuanced maneuvering which make the sport so beautiful will be revealed.

It’s also a brutally honest sport despite the presence of pageantry. I wonder if the American audience in this current day and age wants to deal with something as raw as the sweet science. Like jazz music, what seems straightforward, easily understood, and mastered is, well, not.

Regarding the idea of the 1920’s and 30’s as boxing’s golden age? I suppose when Jack Dempsey was on the scene that couldn’t hurt. Maybe Joyce Carol Oates went overboard when she called him the “very embodiment of hunger, rage, the will to do hurt; the spirit of the Western frontier come East to win his fortune.”

But she has a point: in a way, boxing might have been an extension of Frederick Jackson Turner‘s frontier theses from the late 1800’s. This was also the time of classic liberalism which placed the emphasis on the individual, not the collective. So what better example than boxing?

Besides the obvious betting angle, I would think there is a crossover of fight fans and those who go to the track. But also both sports are forever linked to corruption and all sorts of dirty activity, which probably increases their popularity.


Surely another reason boxing has lost popularity is the biggest fights are on pay per view. Even the most accessible fights are on HBO or Showtime. How can anyone be expected to follow a sport that they have no access to?

Also there are multiple boxing authorities (3 I think) which waters down the idea of a champion in a given weight class. There is no single heavyweight champion of the world, there is no championship. Perhaps on an economics blog we could say the sport has been devalued by an excessive supply of champions. :)

Black Political Analysis

Who watches boxing? Is it mostly male? I'm curious if because of increased choice, as many females watch boxing as they once did. I know they have boxing classes in gyms for the ladies, but I'm talking about raw numbers of eyeballs.


Regarding MMA comments vs. boxing...some random thoughts

It may be unfair to compare the two. While both are violent, one on one, etc. They are still two different sports.

The idea however that MMA is more exciting is just Dana White propaganda. I have followed MMA for a little while, and to this day, can only mention a handful of truly great fights. The sport of MMA is not set up to create quite the same drama that boxing does.

Please bear with me.

When comparing the two, its no contest which sport produces the better fighters. MMA fighters are simply awesome. The sport allows for a wide variety of styles and angles. Boxing is more limited in scope, only hands are used in at its core, while MMA uses the whole body more effectively and allows for combat on the floor.

However, no MMA fight could ever produce:
Hagler v. Hearns
Castillo v. Corrales I
Pac Man v. Marquez I
Ali v. Frazier III

Boxing is simply more brutal. MMA fights end immediately when someone gets knocked down bad. Boxing's rule set allows a fighter recovery time with 10 second counts, more rounds with minute rests, etc. This allows boxing to produce the drama of the above fights. MMA is to be commended for creating a more realistic fighting scenario. But because of this, it can never produce a fight like Diego Corrales coming back in Rocky-like fashion against Castillo a few years back.

Thus, the drama of boxing is unlike anything in any other sport, and because of this, boxing is always capable of reclaiming some of its past. It wasn't too long ago that we had the "Tyson era," and not even Michael Jordan could compete with that kind of popularity 20 years ago.

Lastly, for you MMA fans...time to put some checks and balances into your sport. For all of boxings ills, and there are way too many to even think about, there is one fact that remains...the two best middleweights can, and will, fight, so long as one isn't purposely ducking the other. It doesn't matter what the WBA, WBO, IBF, etc. say. The fight can be made. It doesn't matter how much the promoters (Golden Boy, King, Arum, etc.) hate each other. The fans can essentially create the best fights.

On the other hand, I have given up on MMA for this reason...if you have a contract with WEC, you fight there, and can't fight a UFC guy. The best fights are NOT happening in MMA. UFC fighters aren't allowed to fight elsewhere. MMA is hurt more by UFC, WEC, Bodog, Affliction (who at least have a wider vision), Elite XC, etc than boxing is by its organizations (basically money making schemes to name "champions").

MMA fans...beware your claims...boxing still has deep appeal.



To #1
You are exactly correct. The young fight fan 17-35 has moved over to MMA. I am a fan of both sports but MMA is rising fast and I haven't met anyone that has watched at least 3 events that isn't hooked. Also the point of it not being on sportscenter is huge. Most young people get their sports info from there. Boxing just recently (last 5 years I believe) started letting the highlights of the fights be shown on TV instead of pictures.

Donald Meyer

I cannot believe no one mentioned the Joe Lewis era. I remember collecting on my paper route while his fights were on the radio. Every house was tuned into the match and I wouldn't miss much even though I was on the move!
Furtermore, racism was much higher back then, but Joe was THE MAN!


People love the heavyweight division. Any young man who is athletic and has true size is better served taking a football scholarship and getting a free college education. There are hundreds of athletes out there who would have the natural ability to make great heavyweight fighters, but the incentive is low when compared to the oppertunity that same athlete would have at a division 1 college football or basketball program.

Ken D.

The harsh, direct brutality of the sport is a problem in an evolving society. Personally I am a sports fan generally, and even watch a little boxing now and again. But a turning point for me was the Mancini/Duk Koo Kim fight, which I saw live on TV. It was a great, active competitive fight between two of the best -- and the next day one guy was dead. I rarely see a boxing match without thinking of that. MMA has the same problem only worse. Some day soon someone will die from a kick or elbow to the head, and the bloom will be off that strange little rose. (BTW, does one call MMA fighters "sportsmen"?)

Scott Catledge

From the second grade (1946) on I read Ring Magazine and could name all of the recognized champions from welterweight through heavyweight; I listened to the Wednesday night and Friday night fights on Radio; I actually got to see two of my greatest childhood heroes in person (Sugar Ray Robinson and Joe Louis) and hated never getting to meet Jack Dempsey, Stanley Ketchel, and Willie Pep;
I knew the names of every type of punch and who used what in which major bout.
I saw the last heavyweight boxer Ronald LaStarza out-box Rocky Marciano; however, a mule kick to Rocky's head would have only damaged the mule.
I saw no more boxers after that. I do not consider fighting interesting to watch; I did not
outgrow boxing; it degraded into fighting. When
I once saw a few minutes of Cassius Clay fighting,
I thought of the Limbo: how low can you go.

I do not believe that fighting should be outlawed
as a sport; however, with the far more action-filled kick-boxing and similar sports, I think that it has seen its day.

What no one seems to have notice is that, in the heyday of boxing, the latest immigrants to NYC so
often became prominent in fighting: Two Irish
Paddy O'Ryan and John L. Sullivan fought for the first "World's Heavyweight Champion" title; Battling Levinsky represented the Jewish; Kid Chocolate was actually a Cuban although considered the forerunner of the great Black boxers; e.g., Jack Johnson; Stanley Ketchel was the tops for the East Europeans.



What does Kasia Boddy mean when he (?) says that boxing become legal in the 1920's?

I think boxing needs to go the route of MMA and wrestling and stop doing big fights only in Vegas and NY/NJ. Bring big fights and good fighters to the fans in cities all across America. In the "golden eras" of boxing fights were in any place that would hold the fight. Ali won his first title in Miami Beach and had his first title defense in Lewiston, Maine!! If pay-per-view for boxing is that lucrative, you can hold the fight anywhere and make money.


Raj (#24): At risk of going off topic:

Boxing is NOT tougher than pro wrestling. Boxers fight maybe four times a year, but pro wrestlers perform 3-5 nights a week. And while it's not a real fight, I guarantee those guys absorb massive amounts of punishment with the stunts they pull to make things look "semi" real. Moreso in the long run, night after night, than the average pro boxer absorbs in a year.

Boxing is also NOT less violent than the Ultimate Fighting Championship. See my post, #17. It's MORE violent and dangerous.

As far as pugilists regarding themselves as "gentlemen" -- while that's as much marketing and PR as anything else, pugilists are every bit as gentlemanly as any type of pro athlete. We've all read similar stories about pro football, baseball, and basketball players totally out of control. Baseball has Darryl Strawberry, football has ... well almost any starting member of the 1990s Dallas Cowboys teams, basketball has Latrell Sprewell ...

Pugilists that ARE/WERE gentlemen? Plenty have unbesmirched reputations as true class acts, including (but not limited to) Joe Louis, Max Baer, Max Schmeling, Randy Couture, Forrest Griffin, the list goes on ...



Bob Margolis especially makes some good points. I also wonder what effect the downsizing of the military has, where boxing was always a popular sport for both partaking in and spectating. I can't help but think that the emergence of the UFC has a lot to do with the new crop of servicemen and veterans emerging from the wars of the 21st century.

Some suggestions for boxing:

This wasn't necessary when there was a small crop of elite fighters, everyone was shepharded by MSG, and it was the only thing on tv and radio, but it is now. The title system is impossible for any amateur fan to follow, and there's no reason why some sort of small, 8-person bracket, perhaps with some sort of point system attached like in soccer, couldn't be used for a series of fights to determine an annual champion.

Ditch PPV. This is long overdue. How can one cultivate new fans with such a high barrier to entry? Sell the biggest fights to the networks, or at least to basic cable. Also, if combined with some sort of playoff, you would actually be able to differentiate fights between non-champions. (Advertise Watch the semifinal! etc.)

Also, for the love of god, get the Klychkos out there! They should be as big as the Williams sisters by now. They are compelling, intelligent, handsome, and speak great English. What's not to like here?



Of course when you talk about the declining popularity of boxing, you have to compare it to the increasing (for now) popularity of MMA.

The increasing popularity of MMA shows that the public hasn't lost its appetite for a combat sport, so squeamishness for violence can't be a factor -- the opinions of Allen (#5) and Ken D. (#6).

While a fan of both sports, here are the things that I think have hurt boxing's popularity. Some are obvious, some not so much:

1) Media recognition: there's not much coverage of boxing in newspapers, general sports magazines (SI, etc.) or TV (whether the regular news or ESPN). Not just results, but pre-event hype. On the other hand, when the UFC or some other MMA promotion has a tournament/event, you see the ads on cable, on billboard ads, etc. Perhaps this is due to a lack of corporate sponsorship or boxing's total reliance on PPV.

2) There's public perception that boxing fights are fixed. You can probably thank Don King for this: whether he fixes fights or not, I don't know anybody who thinks that he isn't a total unethical sleaze and hasn't gotten turned off of boxing at least a little as a result.

3) Realism. We used to love boxing because it simulated a real fight, and humans are often bloodthirsty animals who like to watch violence. But MMA simulates a real fight way better. While it's not totally accurate, the image of an MMA fight is one of an "anything goes" competition--kicks, grappling, throws, locks, elbows. Compare that to boxing, where -- to the uneducated viewer who has little understanding of the specifics of strategy, angling, positioning, etc. -- boxing is just four punches over and over again. (I know this is inaccurate, but to someone who's never boxed, that's what it looks like.)

I do not think the "alphabet soup" of titles has a major detrimental effect on boxing. After all, for many years, MMA had two prime leagues -- the UFC and Pride, and the sport did very well, even though there was never a totally undisputed champion of both leagues.


Tim Starks

Thanks for one of the smarter discussions of this topic I've seen in a major media outlet in a long time. Left out, I think, are the following, and maybe the biggest: The lack of boxing on network TV, few major bouts on basic cable and too many pay-per-views. I think boxing deserves credit for figuring out one of its previous biggest problems over the last year and a half -- that is, people want to see the best fighting the best. That's what happened with Margarito-Cotto, and because it got some serious word of mouth love, ESPN wised up and broadcast the highlights. (I write for one of the biggest boxing blogs, mvn.com/boxing, and I provided a more extensive answer to this post there.)


in the boxing world, middleweight champion kelly pavlik has generated alot of interest; his first bout with jermain taylor was touted as one of the best of 2007. however, his career is especially interesting to this story in that he comes from youngstown, ohio, an economically plagued ex-steel city that has embraced their new Golden Boy (as they did our past champion, ray 'boom boom' mancini) as another new way youngstown can overcome blight and look to a better future, both financially and reputation-wise.

pavlik-mania ensues whenever he has a fight coming up; thousands went to atlantic city to see him win the title. his fights do wonders for local businesses who televise them, ditto tshirt vendors and local sponsors. one of his first fights on the road to the title was held at youngstown's Chevrolet Centre, a city-owned arena that hadn't seen many profits since its opening - a hometown fight to defend the title could be a big moneymaker.

his success has helped bring the spotlight back on youngstown's supposed resurrection, as HBO showed during a mini-doc before the 2007 fight. boxing has always been a staple in youngstown, but now everyone else seems to be catching on too.



I feel I probably represent a large portion of the populace when I say that I have no interest in the violence of the sport of boxing and MMA.

I don't particularly like football, but I'm a huge NBA fan. I'm sure there are people who will try to convince me that boxing is just as violent as other sports, but the direct brutality is too much to overcome in my mind.

In boxing and MMA you are in direct physical confrontation with the goal of defeating your opponent. The opponent is not an obstacle or defender, he or she is your target, unlike in other sports.

While I'm not a pacifist, these direct confrontations really are too "raw" for me, as Bob Margolis puts it. True or not, boxing and MMA conjure up images of macho men, barbaric brute force and testoterone run wild.

Raj Pandravada

It is quite interesting to see how each one of the respondents justifies boxing, and compares it to everything - jazz music, life, chess, and I guess what can either be Bob Barr's Libertarian Party, or Ralph Nader's independent party.

Try MY comparison:
Boxing is tougher than pro-wrestling, and less violent than the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It's the soft cream at the center of the meaningless-violent-sport Oreo cookie.

One more thing I don't understand: pugilists all over the world pride themselves at being 'gentlemen'. I guess it takes one 'Tyson-bites-Hollyfield's-ear-off' headline to set that fallacy straight.

On a completely unrelated aside: read 'Asterix and the Big Fight' and look for a boxer named 'Caesius Ceramix' (obviously, Caesius = Cassius, Ceramix = Clay) who claims to be 'THE GREATEST' all the time. He gets worn down by the rather corpulent Vitalstatistix, who even manages to do a 'victory' dance a la the real Cassius Clay.




Ken D. (#6): "MMA has the same problem only worse. Some day soon someone will die from a kick or elbow to the head, and the bloom will be off that strange little rose."

Perhaps, but the likelihood of an MMA death in the ring that directly attributable to the actual match is unlikely. MMA, despite its appearances, is actually SAFER than boxing. Here's why:

1) Greater number ways to win: in addition to a knockout or decision (as in boxing), MMA fights can also win by submission, which are inherently safer since a fighter can "tap out" before serious (or even minimal) damage can take place.

2) Greater use of the intelligent defense in MMA. In a boxing match, a fighter can be clearly out of it, swaying on his feet -- and the fight will continue and his opponent will keep punching until the fighter falls over. In an MMA match, if it's clear that a fighter is no longer able to offer an "intelligent defense"--simply covering up or "turtling"/going fetal doesn't count--or it's clear the fighter "isn't home" the ref stops the fight and the opponent is declared the winner. This takes place even if the fighter can still stand on his own two feet. The boxing method results in a fighter potentially taking way more punishment, punishment that can lead to more serious short- and long-term brain trauma.

3) Looser definition of the TKO. In an MMA match, if a fighter is rocked by a hard punch and falls down, he will generally be swarmed, and the ref will stop the fight and declare his opponent the victor before any more damage can be done. In boxing, if the fighter is rocked by a hard punch and falls over--he has clearly been injured, but if he can do so in a 10 count, he is allowed to get up and continue fighting--and absorbing more punishment. Again, this results in boxers being exposed to a higher potential for serious short- and long-term brain trauma.

4) Gloves are more padded in boxing. Contrary to popular belief, this makes things more dangerous. Boxing gloves add a pound to each hand, so each punch lands with a lot more momentum and force (and causes a lot more damage inside the skull.) By contrast, MMA gloves, while smaller and lighter, will hurt more and more likely cause a cut, but there will be less actual momentum in each punch. A fighter wearing boxing gloves will cause more brain damage with a given than he will if he throws the same punch wearing MMA gloves.



I think boxing needs more, better marketing. MMA, its main competitor has lots of marketing and even though its fights are generally PPV, it still does well. I also think that the two sports compliment each other, people will often be interested in both or neither of them. Finally, I think that boxing should reopen its doors to the people with a lower income, THE KOALA (#34) says everything else though.

Kasia Boddy

Scott (comment 4) asked what I meant about boxing being legalised in the US in the 1920s.

Until the 20s, different restrictions operated in different states at different times. Following their 1889 fight in Mississippi, for example, John L. Sullivan and Jake Kilrain were arrested and had to pay substantial fines to avoid imprisonment, while in 1895 legal obstructions meant that a planned fight between Jim Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons had to move around the country several times before it finally took place two years later in Carson City, Nevada.

Arguments about the legalisation of boxing centred on its associations with crime and political corruption. In 1896 New York became the first state to legalise a version of boxing by statute. Sparring with five-ounce gloves for a maximum of 20 rounds in buildings owned by incorporated athletic associations was now allowed, but 'disorderly gatherings' and police intervention continued, and, with the support of Governor Theodore Roosevelt, the law was repealed in 1900.

Outlawing professional boxing made little difference to the growth of its popularity, however, and in many places fights continued to be staged almost nightly. Those who were interested had no difficulty finding out where to go. One scam was to stage 'exhibitions' or, more commonly, to operate politically supported 'membership clubs'; anyone who paid a dollar could join the club and watch the fight. The status of athletic associations and saloon-based clubs shifted during the years that followed, until, in New York at least, boxing was finally legalized, and properly licensed, in 1920.



I have to disagree with the majority of posters who all debate the wrong 3 letters for boxings heir- it's the WWE!- it's an empirical fact that the WWE has ascended to the economic throne- billionaire McMahon makes King look like a small fry- and the unmitigated success of transiting PPV WWF to primetime and worldwide tours has MMA picking up its breadcrumbs- Ali was bigger than Hogan, but McMahon's fusion of bombastic athletic figure with marketing won the youth over in displaying the myth of good v evil- boxing's corruption is what justifiably killed it- it fell from grace and McMahon created a kinder, gentler form of macho entertainment