eNewsChannels BOOK SERIAL: “Secret Sex, A Book Alive Online,” written and lived by John Scott G: Chapter 39 – “Hits.”
As a distraction from my divorce, I had a date with my hairdresser. It should be noted that I once had longer hair and therefore knew an expert stylist. As for the “date” part, well, that was just a figure of speech. He was married, too.
We both had difficulties with our wives. Mine had multiple personalities and his was alcoholic and so we decided to have a night on the town to get away from those problems.
Over the years, I’ve been invited to rock concerts, art openings, film and TV screenings, plays, night clubs, football games, wrap parties, rodeos, poetry readings, soccer matches, dog shows, tennis tournaments, classical recitals, and more. Hell, I once was invited to cover a convention of philatelists. (They’re into postage stamps. Really. Trust me, I looked it up.)
In this case, I was mailed a glossy and garish press kit for something called “Beer Championship Boxing.” (Note: there was a brand name in place of the word “Beer” but since no one is paying me anything for product placement, no brew will be mentioned here.)
As you might imagine, the press kit materials extolled the virtues of the entire Beer Championship Boxing event, including the fact that they were proud to be sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission, which led me to wonder how many boxing tournaments were not sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission.
It seemed to me that this event was a bit over-hyped. They claimed to be presenting a “Dual Title Bout” between someone they said was the “California State Champion Heavyweight” and someone they said was the “Beer Champion Heavyweight.” In other words, two guys you’ve never heard of who were holding titles which were dubious at best.
Still, there were a total of seven matches scheduled (or “bouts on the card,” as boxing people put it) and it seemed like it would be a hoot to attend, so I called my hair guy Francisco at his salon and the conversation went like this:
“Hi ‘Cisco, this is John Scott.”
“Jay Ess Gee! How are ya?”
“Fine. How you doin’?”
“Great, buddy. What’s up?”
“Okay, I’ve got an invitation for the two of us to consider. This doesn’t include the wives, all right?”
“I’m with you so far.”
“Okay. Now, Francisco, you’re a macho kind of guy, right?”
“A red-blooded American type, right?”
“So, naturally, being a macho, red-blooded, American type male, you really would enjoy seeing two guys beating each other up, right?”
“Wow. Where? Yeah!”
“It’s something called Beer Championship Boxing and it’s at the Arena next Sunday, four-thirty in the afternoon.”
“That’s a groove, man! Wait, four-thirty?”
“Yeah, they’re broadcasting live to the East Coast, so it’s seven-thirty back there.”
“Oh, okay. I guess we can start drinking at four-thirty.”
“That’s the spirit! So okay, they’ve got seven bouts: heavyweights, middleweights, and lightweights.”
“Let’s do it, buddy!”
“You’re on, ‘Cisco.”
“Okay, look, I’ve got a client in the chair, so let’s talk later in the week.”
“Oh hey, G-Man, you know what?”
“We just made a date for Gay Pride Day.”
“Really? I didn’t know that was next Sunday.”
“Well, it’s perfect, actually. ‘Cause boxing is so brutal, so vicious.”
“So fierce, so ruthless.”
“Ooooh, I’m getting chills.”
“Me too, big boy.”
On the Road
On Sunday afternoon, ‘Cisco and I are tooling along the freeway, the sunroof open, stereo blasting out tracks from Alien Sex Fiend, Hoodoo Gurus, Bauhaus, Front Line Assembly, hands pounding on the steering wheel (‘Cisco) and dashboard (me), and our heads bobbing in the wind whine.
As we approached the Arena, we had a version of The Talk. We pledged to be on our best behavior because we were about to be entering a foreign environment. Or, as ‘Cisco succinctly put it, “Don’t be yelling out something like ‘Come on you fuckin’ Spic, kill that fuckin’ nigger’ or anything like that.”
“Hey, I don’t use that kind of language.”
“I was reminding myself,” he said.
“Oh. Okay. Good advice, ‘Cisco, and something I’ll cherish until my dying day. Which will be today if you forget and cut loose with any racist crap. Look man, if I don’t know when you’re joking, the crowd sure as hell isn’t going to know when you’re joking.”
“Right, right,” he said. “You’ve got no worries, man.”
And yet, I was worried.
In the Parking Lot
The guy in charge of press parking was about seven feet tall. I was fiddling with the car stereo when I became aware that there was a problem between ‘Cisco and the big guy. They weren’t communicating very well. Fortunately, ‘Cisco was able to get him to reveal the press parking list.
“There we are,” ‘Cisco said, pointing to a line on the list. I leaned over to show the guy a business card and we were waved into the lot.
“You know,” I said, “we could have just paid for parking.”
“Nah,” he said. “It’s not the money. It’s the principle of the thing. I had to show gargantua that we’re important enough to be on his precious list.”
“But what if there had been a mistake and we hadn’t been on it?”
“How do you know we really were on it? I pointed to a name, you showed a business card, and with the sunlight outside and the dark here in the car I don’t think he could see anything.”
“We were on the list, ‘Cisco. I know you. You’re not about to take a chance on having the guy pick up this car and toss it out into the street.”
He laughed. “You’re right. And he could have done it, too!”
In the Bar
Just inside the Arena entrance was another gigantic bouncer who checked his list, then waved us into a bar that I didn’t even know was built into the place. There, we dealt with a slightly shorter but greatly heavier bouncer who gave us each a crack ‘n’ peel sticker that proclaimed us as members of the Media.
“Want to get a drink?” I said.
“I dunno,” ‘Cisco said, glancing around the bar. “Who are these people?”
The crowd was remarkably devoid of anyone wearing Media stickers and most of the people were twice our age, twice our weight, and very leathery in the face. The men were not all that attractive, either.
“Let’s go find our seats,” I said.
“Right. Sure hope we’re sitting close to the ring.”
He didn’t know how close. When you see a boxing match on TV, you may have noticed there are people’s heads that appear just above the floor of the ring. Their seats are literally ringside. That’s where we were located, right next to the official time-keeper. Nearby was ring announcer Jimmy Lennon, Jr., and just kitty-corner from us was broadcaster Chick Hearn. Yeah, we were close to the ring all right.
Setting the Scene
Astonished by our prime location, we turned to watch people filling in the seats of the Arena.
“Heavily tattooed crowd,” I said.
“Heavily fashion-challenged crowd,” Francisco said.
The favorite look was a denim vest over a t-shirt. But that fit with their choice of libation. In other words, lots of beer was being consumed. And here is where we were able to participate.
Our Media stickers allowed us into the Press Room, where there were free sandwiches, free soft drinks, free coffee, and free beer. ‘Cisco and I took turns going from our seats to the Press Room and getting four twelve-ounce plastic cups of Beer brand beer. (Note: product placement opportunities are available for upcoming chapters. Send an e-mail to me at eNewsChannels. Thank you.)
Yes, we brought in four cups of beer each time. We would hand out the two extra brews to anyone nearby who looked thirsty. We soon had several smiling and happy new-found friends in our vicinity, which we thought might come in handy if there was any trouble later. And as it turned out, we were right about the trouble later.
Meanwhile, one man was quite pleasant to us without taking any beer. His name was Benny, and he was the time-keeper who normally worked the fights at the Olympic Auditorium. He helped us feel right at home by introducing us to some of the fighters, trainers, managers, and corner men.
There was a stir in the crowd as some strippers came and sat down next to us. Now there was no need to look anywhere else. Or talk to Benny. Or talk at all, except to say important things to the girls, things like “Nice shoes” and “Are you warm enough?” and “Is that outfit called a bikini?” It turns out that their outfits were called microkinis and they are a great advancement in the art of almost not wearing anything. (Yes, I know this is a chapter about boxing, but it is extremely necessary to present every bit of ambience for your edification. You’re welcome.)
Suddenly, Jimmy Lennon, Jr. was announcing the first fight of the evening. During the introductions, one fighter was in constant motion, up on his toes, stretching his neck, shadowboxing, and dancing from side to side. The other fighter was awkwardly frozen, as if in a daze. He looked the way I’d look if I was stripped to my shorts and put under the lights in front of thousands of bloodthirsty boxing fans, especially if I was staring across the ring at some hungry, angry, limb-waving, muscular dude who had probably been told he’d get his twelve hundred dollar paycheck only if he took my head off.
The fight lasted all the way ’til 2:14 of the first round when Mr. Motion threw an overhand right with little classic art but a fine calculation of arc. It landed just perfectly on Mr. Dazed’s chin. Bingo. The guy was senseless before his body touched the canvas. The count didn’t even reach “four” and the referee was waving his hands back and forth above his head, declaring the fight officially over. Since the count didn’t reach ten, the result was a TKO, or technical knockout.
In the second bout, we again witnessed one fighter who was obviously outclassed and he suffered several brutal thrumps to the head and body before succumbing to a lovely knockout punch. This fight lasted much longer than the first one, reaching all the way to 2:23 of the opening round. And this time, the referee made it through to the count of ten, so it was a KO rather than a TKO. Both of these fights go into the records as knockouts, making the distinction moot. (I just adore being able to use the word “moot” in a story. It feels so good. Try it! Moot. See?)
It wasn’t until the third fight that we got to see the strippers strut their stuff. They were members of a troupe called Gabe’s Babes and their job was to enter the ring and display the placards that indicated the number of the upcoming round. The “ring card girl” is a fine tradition of the sweet science.
(In the early 1800s, sportswriter Pierce Egan often referred to the “sweet science of bruising” although the term was solidified by author A.J. Liebling, a writer for the The New Yorker in the 1950s, and whose collection of boxing articles was called The Sweet Science. Don’t you just love it when I throw in these historical and educational tidbits for your enlightenment?)
“You know,” Benny told us, “I don’t think anybody pays much attention to the numbers on those ring cards.”
“Right,” we said to Benny while watching one of the Babes.
“It’s just an excuse to have a pretty gal march around the ring in tight skimpy clothes and high heels.”
“Right,” we said to Benny while watching one of the Babes.
“And having them hold up the cards up like that gets their hands and arms out of the way of the view.”
“Right,” we said to Benny while watching one of the Babes.
“Scientists said a meteor will destroy the earth tomorrow.”
“Right,” we said to Benny while watching one of the Babes.
Each time one of the girls entered the ring right above us, a nice ovation rolled through the stands on our side of the auditorium. When the Babe stepped up to the ropes, a big bouncer would pull up on the middle rope while stepping down on the bottom rope, making it easier for the high-heeled cutie to bend over and glide into the ring. But that’s not the way they were supposed to do it. They should have done something called the “bunny dip” because otherwise the audience was being given a glance at the nether regions of each of the girls. Basically, we got a great view of the north-end of a south-bound Babe.
Thankfully, it took them until the sixth round to get the dip right, after repeated instructions from their female chaperone. One might suspect they were exciting the crowd on purpose. At one point after a Babe bend, Benny leaned over and whispered something to Francisco, who nodded vigorously. “Oh I’d do it, you bet,” Francisco said to him. “After she’d run a mile, man.” Benny cracked up.
Back to Business
The middleweight battle went the full ten rounds. “It went the distance,” as the fight crowd would say. A shaven-headed and goateed ex-Marine generally mauled a guy who was a better boxer but who had no power. Once Mr. Semper Fi discovered the weak nature of Mr. Pitty-Pat’s attack, he moved in to deliver lots of big, looping, sloppy blows that had his full weight behind them. The thuds these punches made on the noggin and torso of the other boxer sent echoes through the Arena and brought “oohs” from many in the audience. The marine won in a walk. Or in a thump.
Next was the Dual Title Bout. Unfortunately, the Beer Champ looked like he had consumed too much of the sponsor’s product, but he seemed like a nice enough guy and was very popular with the crowd. His opponent, the State Champ, was built along the lines of an M1 Abrams battle tank. This guy didn’t have much finesse on defense, but he did know how to throw a punch: get a good angle, let it fly from a balanced position, and use your body for more than just weight. Lever it so as to increase the torque. While he didn’t have much hand speed, when he landed a punch, you’d feel it on your spine. So you can imagine what it must have done to Mr. Popularity’s body. Mr. M1 doggedly chased his opponent for the full ten rounds, pummeling him repeatedly. Unanimous decision for the tank.
“Glad we’re wearing jeans,” I said, glancing down at our clothing.
“And old shirts,” Francisco added.
Both of us had gotten fairly smooth in our automatic motion of laying a program on the top of our cups of beer but there was no protection for our clothing. You see, when two fighters are pounding each other in the ring, sweat and blood begin to fly every which way and loose.
“Ewwwweu,” I hear you saying. Yeah, and it makes you question why so many ringsiders wear nice clothes. Those folks must have a really good relationship with their dry cleaner.
During intermission, we went first to the Press Room, which just happened to also be the dressing room for the Babes. (Yaaaay!) While grabbing a sandwich, we eyed the girls as they worked on hair and make-up, the two things that made practically no difference in our appreciation of them.
Next, we walked to the boxers’ dressing rooms where we were told that we had the choice of talking to the losing boxer in the previous fight or joining a group of people hanging on every monosyllabic pronouncement of Sylvester Stallone. No contest; we happily spoke with the defeated but still smiling boxer about some of the finer points of the fight game. He seemed at least as articulate as any of Stallone’s film characters.
Back at It
The best fight of the night came next. It was a non-stop slugfest. Defense be damned, the two men delivered everything they had for every second of every round. I sincerely doubt that either of those two guys could walk upright after they made it back home. Talk about a hard day at the office, those gentlemen probably pissed blood for a week. It was awesome and coins rained down on the ring during an extended standing ovation.
The final fight we saw pitted a young fancy dancer against a grey-haired veteran. Mr. Dancer had no power in his right hand but he had a wicked left jab to go along with a lovely left hook and he knew how to use them both. Mr. Grey, whose record was something like forty wins against fifty losses and seventeen draws, probably shouldn’t be doing this sort of thing any longer. The contest was stopped by the ringside doctor after five rounds. Something about too much blood obscuring the fighter’s vision.
When a bare-knuckle fight broke out in the stands and threatened to spread throughout the Arena, we took this as our cue to exit.
Keep Feeling Fascination
Did I enjoy the excursion into the world of the pugilistic arts? You bet. But other than ogling the Babes, I had to ask myself why I had such a good time. If I see a dead animal on the street, it hurts me inside and I flinch. If there are accident victims beside the roadway, I avert my eyes to grant them a measure of privacy. Unless I’m in the passenger seat and have my video camera with me. But that’s not the point I’m making here. The important thing is my incredible level of introspection indicated by my wondering why I liked watching the boxing matches.
Part of the fascination is that boxing seems to me to be life in microcosm. Every fight is a parable of human existence, a metaphor in which two men are each standing in for fate, chance, or kismet. Talent doesn’t always win out, just like in life. Courage may be rewarded with permanent injury, just like in life. The forces opposing each other in the ring can represent the forces you battle at home, at work, or through your entire life. For me, watching a boxing match is an exercise in existential philosophy.
Or maybe I just enjoy seeing two guys beating the shit out of each other.
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“Secret Sex, A Book Alive Online,” written and lived by John Scott G, is Copr. © 2011-2012 by JSG, all rights reserved under U.S. and international copyright conventions. Commercial use in any form is forbidden without express written permission of the author. Originally published on eNewsChannels.com with permission. Credits: Book cover design: Phil Hatten.
KEYWORDS: novel, non-fiction, biography, autobiography, boxing