Boxing, Fighting, and Nelson Mandela

Fighting for equality was the struggle that defined Nelson Mandela's life. Boxing, which was Mandela's greatest sports passion, fits right in with that.
Share |

A traditional belief in Mexican culture is that there are three stages of death. Rudimentarily recounted, the first stage is physical death, our last breath; the second is when our bodies are lowered into the earth; the third is the last time our name is spoken, when there is no one left to remember us.

Nelson Mandela, who is in some part of the first phase at present and will almost certainly never reach the third, was -- among all the other things that made him one of the towering figures of the last century -- a boxing fan. A frankly aberrant, avid and feverishly passionate boxing fan. Before he took up the fight against apartheid, which was the fight that defined his life and ensured his legacy, Mandela was a boxer himself. At this late moment in his life, everything about Mandela is both more poignant and more significant. His love for boxing, this elemental, self-defeating, vital and troubled sport, is no different.

***

Marco Cianfanelli's "Shadow Boxing" is a sculpture of Mandela that’s five meters tall; it stands in front of the Magistrate's Court in Johannesburg, a route that the Mail and Guardian's Laurice Taitz notes, "that a young Mandela must have walked many times." The sculpture's steel plates are painted gray and black and its likeness is based on a photograph of Mandela sparring with professional boxer Jerry Moloi. The photograph was taken in 1953, on the rooftop of a building in the downtown core of the city. It was the same year Mandela opened a law firm with Oliver Tambo, which was the only African-run law firm in the country.

At the time, an Italian boxer from Boston, Rocky Marciano, was in the second of a four year reign as heavyweight champion of the world. Muhammad Ali was 11 years old, still named Cassius Clay, and seven years from his professional debut.

Less than ten years later, Mandela was in prison. His first sentence was five years of hard labor for inciting workers to strike and leaving the country without permission. Two years later, while still serving that sentence, he was charged again, this time for conspiracy to overthrow the government and four counts of sabotage. In the courtroom, he said, "I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die." And then Mandela was found guilty, after an eight month trial. He would spend the next 25 years of his life behind bars.

On the outside, the fight for equality and civil rights continued on his home front and in the United States. Four months before Mandela’s life sentence, Ali, 22 years old by that point, fought heavyweight champion Sonny Liston for the first time. Prior to the match, he told the press he was going to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.”

On February 25, 1964, in Miami, Ali defeated Liston in one of the biggest boxing upsets of all time. The victory earned him The Ring, WBA and WBC World Heavyweight titles. It also earned him the attention of the world.

Ali took up his own causes outside of boxing, of course. He refused to fight in the Vietnam War, a stance that led him to be banned from boxing for three years and robbed him of the prime of his career. He spent some of that time attending rallies and giving speeches at universities and colleges across the country. His fierce and boldly expressed anti-war beliefs and champion’s charisma made him one of the more complicated and compelling icons of his generation. By the time Ali got back in the ring, he was much more than a boxer, and lent the sport a vast and peculiar cultural relevance. Simply because of its association with Ali, boxing seemed a vehicle for change. Boxing would never seem quite so great or important again. It was, maybe, the last time that fighters as diverse in their aims and approaches as Mandela and Ali could both fit within the sport.

***

Boxing is doing better than you’ve probably heard, but it is undeniably and increasingly not what it was when it mattered most. It is, like a great many other things, governed by idiotic internecine politics and crude greed, and hampered by a self-defeating scuzziness. But buried beneath it all, its tough roots -- primal and honest and essential -- still remain.

The 1920’s are widely regarded as the golden age of boxing. It was newly legalized, fashionable, and exciting. But defining a golden era in any sport is often misleading and colored by nostalgia. In the late 1700’s boxing reached America; the great fights of the late 1800’s are still baffling, awe-inspiring and outsized. Golden ages bumped up against each other throughout the first half of the 20th Century, and the 1960s brought the Ali era; there were miniature renaissances in years after that centered around Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson. Each of these epochs carries its own importance, culturally and otherwise. The same, we might as well assume, will someday apply to today’s diminished boxing scene.

Now, the sport is in transition. While its popularity in America dwindles, it continues to remain not just relevant but vital in the rest of the world. It is changing, as such things do, and attracting new fans and fighters who will change it further in the years to come. Like all things popular and consumed, its lifespan is cyclical. Boxing is not finished; fighting is not going to get any less central to the experience of being human. It’s one of the truest things people do.

Mandela, of course, understood this. In his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, he wrote:

“Boxing is egalitarian. In the ring, rank, age, color, and wealth are irrelevant…I never did any real fighting after I entered politics. My main interest was in training; I found the rigorous exercise to be an excellent outlet for tension and stress. After a strenuous workout, I felt both mentally and physically lighter. It was a way of losing myself in something that was not the struggle. After an evening’s workout I would wake up the next morning feeling strong and refreshed, ready to take up the fight again.”

Sports are representative of the culture in which they reside and arguably no sport is wrapped more intrinsically around in-the-moment culture than boxing. Beyond its elemental, binary objectivity, it has ties to gender, race, and class. Beyond that shifting subtext, though, is an essential truth at the center of it: one fighter wins and one loses. The fight is a struggle, a contest that’s representative and reflective of the individual fighters in the ring, but also of much more than that. The fighters are concerned with the first part, as they must be. The rest of it is us.

When we lose Mandela, a loss that will reverberate globally, boxing will lose one of its most important and powerful proponents. One of history’s great fighters, he lent a richness to the sport simply by his association with it. His kinship with and closeness to boxing’s central struggle defined him, and ennobled the sport by projecting its hard, simple binaries outward into the world.

Mandela’s name will never reach that third and final stage of death; his legacy is too salient, too pervasive and too defiant and too strong. Boxing is in trouble, as it often is; it’s a business and a sport. Fighting, as Mandela defined, understood and exemplified it, is a bigger thing, and forever.


Share |

Comments

Extraordinary post, you have pointed out some astounding focuses, I also trust this is an extremely great site. Love commands

The data you have posted is extremely helpful. The destinations you have alluded was great. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing... Christian Mejia Fitness

I continuously livelihood on upcoming to your parcel again retributory in containerful you have posted new list. atlanta locksmiths

Kray Sounds Its my great pleasure to visit your blog and to enjoy your great posts here. I like it a lot. I can feel that you paid much attention for those articles, as all of them make sense and are very useful. best property in chandigarh

loft conversions essex Its my great pleasure to visit your blog and to enjoy your great posts here. I like it a lot. loft conversions esex I can feel that you paid much attention for those articles, as all of them make sense and are very useful. Showbox For Windows

I like this post,And I figure that they having a great time to peruse this post,they might take a decent site to make an information,thanks for sharing it to me. The Author Incubator

It’s never too late to improve your information and your contents inspire me. diet

Your site is truly cool and this is an incredible rousing article. packers and movers aundh

I’m excited to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site medical symptom checker

Much obliged you all that much to share these connections. Will look at this.. social media reporting

SoundCloud may be an first rate manner to boost your exposure and attract a following. With over one hundred seventy five million customers and developing, this website online has been utilized by many artists, massive and small, as a tremendously effective marketing tool https://buyscplays.com/soundcloud-plays/

Much thanks to you for peopling get the data they require. Extraordinary stuff not surprisingly. Keep up the colossal work! tattoo supply

a few gamers will argue that the most exciting on line casino game to play is on-line roulette. the game shall we gamers spin the traditional on-line roulette wheel and gamers can win large coins prizes with the aid of efficaciously predicting wherein the little ball will land. roulette online

A revolutionary new nutrition featuring five unique attributes that create an all-in-one multivitamin nutritional experience. Take advantage of the technology and know-how, and enjoy the benefits of the phytoplankton, antioxidants, vitamins, energy. medical symptom checker

Acclaim
The review system is a way for customers of this business to easily share their opinion. By sharing your experience with this business, you help other consumers find the right business for them! - See more at: https://www.startlocal.com.au/services/aircondition/qld_goldcoast/Acclai...

A Team Tutors
Academic Personal Training is the philosophy where not only students are taught how to behave, study and excel like "A" standard students throughout academic strategy and mentoring programs, but also where the tutors are specifically handpicked, screened, molded and developed into the ultimate educators and mentors.

You finished a couple fine focuses there. I did a hunt on the subject and discovered about all persons will oblige with your site.  Best 3 day detox cleanse

A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing this valuable information.. Water extraction

Academia is a provider of top academic writing services in the industry. Our large clientele base speaks itself that we can provide you any kind of paper writing services that you need.
academic writing service

Shelter Station
Shelter Station portable freestanding shelters and Container Shelters are the ideal solution when you need to protect your possessions, equipment, goods and staff from the elements. Shelter Station can cover your car, boat, tools, tractor, truck, pallets, machinery or anything else inside and eliminate exposure to the weather, as well as storing your possessions out of sight.

The data you have posted is extremely helpful. The destinations you have alluded was great. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing... Promo Fidget Spinner

Much appreciated such a great amount for sharing this amazing information! I am anticipating see more postsby you! Gray Iron Castings

flyff online Took me time to understand all of the comments, but I seriously enjoyed the write-up. It proved being really helpful to me and Im positive to all of the commenters right here! nicl ao recruitment

This web journal is truly awesome. The data here will unquestionably be of some help to me. Much appreciated!. women shoes wide

There should be a natural flow of information that is easy to follow Cheap Business Cards only at cheap55printing.com

Much obliged you all that much to share these connections. Will look at this.. Hundred Palms EC

Patent filing and registration in India. Easy, fast and secure patent registration at affordable prices by Expert Patent Agents and Attorneys. Patent filing india or Patent registration

You have raised an important issue..Thanks for sharing..I would like to read more current affairs from this blog..keep post..!!
blogged topics

Easily, the article is actually the best topic on this registry related issue. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. dressage

This is best post I have ever seen .Very clear and simple. Mid portion Is quite interesting though. Keep doing this. I will visit your site again..!!
high quality video marketing provider

I feel that a debt of gratitude is in order for the valuabe data and experiences you have so given here. women shoes size 10

I am very happy to read this article .. thanks for giving us go through info.Fantastic nice. I appreciate this post.
http://www.creditcardcompanyuk.com/big-cities/albuquerque-credit-repair-attorney/

Its my great pleasure to visit your blog and to enjoy your great posts here. I like it a lot. I can feel that you paid much attention for those articles, as all of them make sense and are very useful.
unlock windows pc

It was the same year Mandela opened a law firm with Oliver Tambo, which was the only African-run law firm in the country.ny notary class online

You make so many great points here that I read your article a couple of times. Your views are in accordance with my own for the most part. This is great content for your readers.http://www.mydreamwedding.ie/weddingblog/entry/wedding-fashion/voltaire-diamonds-diamond-specialists

"Boredom is a killer—which is why a cure for boredom can be a lifesaver.

The truth is, portable Bluetooth speakers have been the handheld solution to elevate the moment, whether at the beach, the middle of a party, or a lazy afternoon at home for years now—and your brand can get in on that excitement.

Right now—with C2BPromo.com, you can put you logo on a wide array of Promotional Bluetooth Speakers, in all different shapes and sizes, from waterproof to resilient wood—with models coming in at 6-7 dollars all the way up to high-end luxury designs. Multiple surfaces on almost every customized Bluetooth speaker can showcase your logo—so no matter which way it’s turned, your name is always center staged." Promotional Bluetooth Speaker

A debt of gratitude is in order for the web journal stacked with such a large number of data. Halting by your web journal assisted me with getting what I was searching for. designer outlet online uk

Awesome and interesting article. Great things you've always shared with us. Thanks. Just continue composing this kind of post.
Hire Valet Service

Hey what a brilliant post I have come across and believe me I have been searching out for this similar kind of post for past a week and hardly came across this. Thank you very much and will look for more postings from you
Hire Valet Service

The data you have posted is extremely helpful. The destinations you have alluded was great. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing... affordable printing

A debt of gratitude is in order for giving late reports with respect to the worry, I anticipate read more.
viagem

I recently found many useful information in your website especially this blog page. Among the lots of comments on your articles. Thanks for sharing.
plumbing services

A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one..!!
plumbing services

A good blog always comes-up with new and exciting information and while reading I have feel that this blog is really have all those quality that qualify a blog to be a one.
plumbing services

A debt of gratitude is in order for giving late reports with respect to the worry, I anticipate read more.
como ganhar dinheiro em casa

As the power of PageRank is getting lower, flow metrics matter. Google gives a huge importance to metrics like domain authority, trust flow or citation flow as a ranking factor. trust flow

Such a very useful article. Very interesting to read this article.I would like to thank you for the efforts you had made for writing this awesome article. really cheap designer handbags

experience are some time lost and they see nothing to offer attractive for the job market. They final dissertation is by all mean the first result of your professional life (provided that it is interesting). Therefore, send it to the organizations you want to tackle.
chess sets for schools

Its my great pleasure to visit your blog and to enjoy your great posts here. I like it a lot. I can feel that you paid much attention for those articles, as all of them make sense and are very useful. tongue diagnosis in Chinese medicine

Really decent post. I just discovered your weblog and needed to say that I have truly delighted in searching your blog entries. After all I'll be subscribing to your food and I trust you compose again soon! 55printing .com Discount Code