Mere Anarchy: The Sad Plight Of The Jackal

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.               — W.B. Yeats

Those socialized into western culture carry core beliefs and universal truths which represent our idealistic selves. Honesty and hard work combined with talent make for a worthy mixture that usually leads to success and happiness in life. All of us are blessed with talent, some of which is never cultivated, but the added ingredients of graft and integrity will see us make our parents, and ourselves, proud.

Perhaps the mental health crisis is a predictable reaction to our collective careering away from those aforementioned traits, or to our inability to consistently stick to them. The current idealized notions of what we should be and how we should live are, in so many instances, impossible to adhere to. More than that, in actual fact they are destructive, driving people to self- loathing, anxiety and depression.

We once had leaders and role models we could look up to, standard bearers, people who extolled the crucial principles of service to others and opportunity for all. Now the idea of looking up to our political leaders and staying true to the values taught by our parents seems like a sick joke. Slimy, career opportunists and confidence men able to play the great unwashed like toy violins are our civic authorities now, corrupt rulers paid off by corporations, the lackeys of unchecked greed.

Donald Trump is the latest incarnation of this slide into the collective abyss in that he is so transparently without intellect, integrity or compassion, just a silver spooned product of hand-me-down money with an average IQ and a truckload of confidence, the kind of confidence that is never bothered by scruples or reflection or humility. He is a hand grenade, lobbed by the tired and cynical masses for entertainment purposes. The whole thing would be funny if it wasn’t guaranteed to wreak havoc on so many lives, to make a travesty of those core values: honesty; hard work; talent.

Trump:
Trump: a hand grenade.

I suspect Guillermo Rigondeux was also raised to believe that if he worked hard and lived right, his natural talent would serve him well. One imagines an upbringing far removed from Trump’s life of privilege, one of desperation and scarcity in a Cuba where millions struggle to make ends meet. In my view Rigo turned out rather well, possessing more raw talent and ability than Trump’s whole organization could ever aspire to, a talent developed through years of hard work in Havana’s grimy gyms. He has succeeded on nothing more than his athletic gifts, discipline, and the courage required to take risks most of us wouldn’t dream of taking.

George Foreman once said ” Boxing is the sport all other sports aspire to.” They dish out superlatives for golfers, footballers and rugby players but when it comes to skill and bravery, combat athletes are perched at the top of the food chain. And from that height Guillermo Rigondeaux soared, from impoverished Cuba to amateur boxing prodigy. Trainers, boxing experts and old-time fight pundits all spoke in awe of him. Two Olympic gold medals is some feat considering the shady deals in the background and the curious judging debacles that deform that version of the noble art.

https://youtu.be/aEktcbGTjcE

Countless accolades at that level and tales of fleeing Cuba in a dinghy under cover of darkness to turn professional only add to the mystique. Those who controlled that escape operation must have viewed Guillermo as a future superstar and cash cow in the making. His status now is the kind of bizarre tragedy that only boxing can serve up. Inactive, ignored and avoided, this special talent is simply too brilliant to be considered worthy of competition.

I witnessed the great man in action on a tense night in Dublin a few years ago. A seven fight pro and already a world champion he was given a cheque of some decency one presumes to give Irish journeyman Willie” Big Bang” Casey an unlikely title shot. The usual hopes of a passionate home crowd were ruthlessly scuttled by Rigo, who dropped poor Willie like a sack of spuds.

Rigondeaux had entered the arena with a chilling smoothness of emotionless movement. A natural fighter, his entire mental and physical composition combined to create something approaching genius. And now us boxing anoraks find ourselves sharing short videos on social media celebrating his ability and cursing the economic semantics of the professional game.

It’s the fault of the language barrier, some will say. Or the desire for blood-and-guts slugfests. He’s just not marketable. Too aloof, too enigmatic. Will make my fighter look average and devalue his future prospects, managers will say. He just doesn’t sell tickets, promoters will say. Others say boxing is dead or in decline. Boxing is not dead, but the appreciation of “The Sweet Science” appears in rapid decline.

And one wonders what Carl Frampton (not to mention Leo Santa Cruz and others) will say years from now when the Rigondeaux question is brought up yet again. Will he truly believe his own platitudes of “the timing wasn’t right,” or “such a pity we couldn’t get it done”? Or will he privately regret not testing his skills against one of the greatest boxers to ever step into the squared circle? But forget the distant future; the tragedy is happening now as Rigondeaux battles privately with motivation and idleness, as opportunities shrink into nothingness and lethargy and procrastination launch their daily attacks.

Rigondeaux: too good for his own good?
Rigondeaux: too good for his own good?

The story of Rigondeaux thus far is the story of thwarted talent, the triumph of business over sport and the tragedy of conflicting human values. And it is very sad. We live in a world where Donald Trump is the most powerful man on the planet while Guillermo Rigondeaux sits beside a phone that never rings. There’s something very wrong with this picture.

Unless one sees Yeats gloomy old poem as a bleak and inescapable prophecy. Indeed, in boxing the centre hasn’t held for a long time now and mere anarchy continues to turn what was once called “The Sport of Kings” into a hollow travesty. Sadly, the rare gemstone of balletic pugilism that is Guillermo Rigondeaux remains surplus to boxing’s requirements, as once again economic necessity trumps talent and true sporting achievement. And boxing girds itself for the absurdity that is Mayweather vs McGregor. Anarchy, indeed.                 — Gary Elbert 

17 thoughts on “Mere Anarchy: The Sad Plight Of The Jackal

  • March 15, 2017 at 2:25 pm
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    Great stuff. Truly sad, the love for boxing in America has died. In Japan, UK, Ireland, and Germany, the fans “ooh” and “aah”, while Guillermo fought champion Nonito Donaire to the sound of boos in New York City. The love is gone. Maybe it’s HBO’s fault, as commentators like Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman do a bad job of calling the fights the way Irish, Mexican, or English commentators do. The American play-by-play men inject their own opinions while the action is happening. Fans believe what the broadcast tells them usually. When Lampley claims Rigo is boring, or the same about Andre Ward, fans believe it. In that video of Rigo vs Casey, the announcers are calling the action. No judgement, no opinions, just the facts. Never happens in America. American Football is the number one sport for good reason; the sport has numerous ways of explaining the action to the common man. Not the case in the American boxing broadcasts.

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    • March 16, 2017 at 4:09 pm
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      Don’t believe we should blame anyone for the lack of interest in certain fights or fighters that fail to excite or entertain the public at large. Personally I appreciate the high talent of the aforementioned and underappreciated pugilists. However I completely understand how the majority of fans are not entertained by the art of hitting without being hit. Watching Mayweather, Ward, and Rigo ply their safety-first skills is akin to watching paint dry for the majority of fight fans.

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    • March 17, 2017 at 8:32 am
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      Great , and true article. If folks want brutal beatings, watch MMA , this is boxing. Hit and not get hit.

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  • March 15, 2017 at 3:23 pm
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    I wasn’t expecting this on the fight city; but more the fool me. Great article!

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  • March 15, 2017 at 3:39 pm
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    Eloquent straight-talking!!! Great read!!!

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  • March 16, 2017 at 5:43 am
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    Why weren’t you expecting this on TFC, Chris? Lots of good writing on here! Great read, this. Pisses me off when you have tub-thumping idiots like Dan Rafael putting mammoth talents like Rigondeaux on blast at every opportunity.

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  • March 16, 2017 at 1:00 pm
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    Rigondeaux vs. Frampton, vs. Santa Cruz, vs. Chocolatito (if they can find a weight that works for them), vs. Lomenchenko (again, if they can find a weight that works for them)…. the list goes on. These are the great fights and fighters we want to see. Rigondeaux ISN’T boring, he’s just being ducked and ignored. He needs to have louder people around him marketing him as the true champ that has to be conquered to actually earn the title. As weird and odd as it is to say, taking a page out of WWE marketing would do him some professional good.

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  • March 16, 2017 at 3:41 pm
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    well, I am a huge boxing fan. let me start with that. while I can agree 1000% that Rigondeaux is an under utilized talent in boxing, I fail to see the correlation between the sitting president and the cuban boxer. You are right. They are nothing alike from a back ground perspective. Trump certainly had an easier road than Rigondeaux. So did you. So did I. Most people not born in Cuba would be able to say the same. I just don’t see how you could turn a perfectly good article with plenty enough meat in it on the fighter and story itself into a slam the POTUS. Im not preaching on Trump’s behalf. This is just a great example of how a writer will do anything to get his or her opinion into something instead of telling the story. The fact is Rigondeaux and Trump have nothing to do with one another. The story here is just simply Rigondeaux can’t get big payday fights due to the powers that be…IN BOXING… not anything the POTUS could ever do or not do. Should have stopped @ “The story of Rigondeaux thus far is the story of thwarted talent, the triumph of business over sport and the tragedy of conflicting human values.” Just sayin.

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    • March 16, 2017 at 8:14 pm
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      It’s the contrast between the success of a bullshit artist and wannabee tough guy, compared to the alienation of true ability and genuine toughness. That’s the point.

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      • March 20, 2017 at 7:45 pm
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        I understand the comparison. It’s the shift in societal values that are celebrated and encouraged these days. Materialism, self absorption, short attention spans, snapchat (even facebook is too much detail) and general douche bag culture reigns supreme.

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          • March 20, 2017 at 8:42 pm
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            Thanks Scott.

  • March 19, 2017 at 1:05 pm
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    A great article and a lovely read. Rigo is, along with Charley Burley, the best technical boxer I have ever seen. It is a shame that, while Burley got to fight some big names during his time, Rigo has been avoided by almost everyone.

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    • March 19, 2017 at 2:43 pm
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      Thanks OC,a terrible waste for sure.

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  • March 21, 2017 at 7:34 pm
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    This article spoke right out of my heart. Rigo is my favorite boxer of all time.

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  • March 25, 2017 at 9:41 am
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    I’m always conflicted with the notion of boxing being more a business than a sport.
    The sheer brutality of boxing makes it a good point to maximise the return for every time you put your health and boxing reputation on the line. This is where I begrudgingly understood Mayweather’s moves in the past.
    But boxing will always be a sport where you challenge yourself in the most fundamental way against another person, that’s the whole point of the sport!
    There is no ball or other conduit on to count score, there is no game element, it’s just the brilliance of the 2 fighters in the ring.

    Why then would you avoid risk by not challenging yourself against the best? Then you are clearly being the business man over the athlete, because you have freedom to choose the best profit/risk ratio instead of following unified rankings and standings, to truly become the best of the sport.

    In comparison to another sport: It would make no sense if the Patriots did not want to play the Superbowl, because they’d rather face the Redskins instead of the Falcons.

    In any case, let’s hope Rigo gets that call and we restore some order in the world.

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  • March 25, 2017 at 4:11 pm
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    Maximisation of profit and minimisation of danger in a sport with potentially life-ending consequences is understandable of course, but legitimising others as champions when they continuously avoid the best challengers is the problem that needs to be addressed.

    Reply

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