The bellicose nature of combat as a sport is evident even for those who have never so much have seen a punch thrown. A part of me, the piece furthest removed from my inner ape, agrees with those who would call these sports a bit barbaric.
Still, what makes boxing stand out so much for me is the depth of peace required for the pursuit.
Consider the stillness of mind required to give a speed bag that rhythmic drumming during training, the solitude of a multiple-kilometer run at some peculiar morning hour. The inescapable fact that every competitor to step into the squared circle, despite carrying on his shoulders the imaginations of a multitude, ultimately does so with only his innermost self to satisfy.
It is these lesser-appreciated elements of boxing that gave it the over 200-year-old nickname of “the sweet science,” reflecting 19th-century sportswriter Pierce Egan’s belief that the body of great fighter unites an active thinker and a tactical mind behind a capable set of hands.
These principles also continue to fuel my lifelong enthusiasm for combat sports, and so when I got wind of a 15-match card to take place in this popular gym stationed on Francisco Medina Ascencio Ave., this week’s article began to write itself.
The Vibes: Mexico has a well-documented relationship with the world of boxing—only strengthened by the recent triumph of first-ever Mexican heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz., Jr in one of the last half-century’s more memorable upsets—and so even bouts featuring amateur boxers are among the hottest tickets in any town on a given night.
The atmosphere was abuzz as I entered the venue with a posse of fellow fight fans. Tense hushes were punctuated by leathery smacks as mitts met meat in rapid successions. As we made our way in, a round’s end was met with rousing multilingual exhortations, the assembled crowd paying tribute to the fighting spirit displayed by both combatants as the corner team of each worked frantically to minimize the damage done by the sanctioned sport.
The event was in full swing by the time we arrived on the scene, and so finding floor seating full, we parked ourselves around at a table on the balcony and covered its entire surface with cold $25 peso cans. Evaluating the duo in the ring and knowing nothing about either, I decided I liked one boxer’s metallic gold hightops and attached my emotional investment to him. The bell rang for another round, and we settled in for the show.
The Vices: Have you ever been in a fight? If so, you know that any individual who chooses, out of the countless walks of life available to a human being of today, to simulate such a thing as a hobby against others who do the same, deserves recognition for their sheer strength of will.
Still, as a fan of Gold Shoes for several minutes, I couldn’t help but root for him to beat Red Shorts, his opponent for the evening. Happily, Gold Shoes put on a convincing display over the following rounds, outperforming Red Shorts in virtually every aspect of the match because bold aesthetic choices can look pretty silly if you’re not good at what you do.
As the victorious hand was raised and the next match took shape, I offered a bit of unscripted commentary. “When a guy doesn’t touch gloves with his opponent, I immediately want him to lose. Just knocked the [expletive deleted] out.” A tad crude for the Tribune? Perhaps…but it was a sentiment that met with unanimous approval at the table.
The evening’s last head-to-head matchup took center stage, and every eye in the building was trained in its direction. After the competitors showed the requisite respect by touching gloves, they clashed on the canvas as the finished product of countless hours of training. One unloaded a fierce flurry of alternating fists on his foe, only to have them masterfully absorbed and deflected. An exquisite display of potential made kinetic, a game of high-impact human chess.
When the contest was over, one man had outmatched the other on the night, but they both stood in the ring as champions. Having truly appreciated what we witnessed that evening, every member of the audience stood for a lively ovation to both men in the ring, but the most important vote of confidence for the entire concept came when the winner raised the hand of his opponent. And that, my friends, is what the sport of combat is all about.
The Verdict: There’s something unexpectedly refined about combat sports, an acknowledgment of both the aggression that lies close to the heart of man and the imperative to funnel it into controlled pursuits. In this way, Super Power Crossfit not only facilitates the ultimate potential of the human animal, but showcases it for your entertainment. Maybe I’ll catch you there.
Info: Calle Sierra Aconcagua 111, Olímpica, 48310 • www.facebook.com/SuperPowerCrossfit/