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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: WE ARE FIGHTERS

By Paul Magno | April 06, 2020
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: WE ARE FIGHTERS

Covid-19 has strangled the life out of most of our superficial first world joys. You can't go to a movie anymore; you can't eat at a restaurant; you can't catch a play or attend a concert; you can't go to a ballgame; and, yeah, you can't go to a fight. 

Boxing has been put on indefinite hold and everyone in the boxing business is frozen, with the bottom 99% soon to be seriously hurting over a lack of income.

Even the house-of-cards world of boxing media, which is always running on revenue-deprivation mode, is collapsing. Long-running UK boxing magazine Boxing Monthly has permanently closed shop. Media powerhouse Gannett recently announced a batch of layoffs and cost cuts that will slow down, if not shutter up, the Boxing Junkie section of their USA Today website. Streaming service DAZN, meanwhile, has enacted their own round of layoffs and is holding back on paying rights fees for their contracted events currently stuck in limbo. 

Some of the more fortunate "haves" in the often "have not" world of boxing have been trying to help ease some of the crippling burden of a world suddenly stopped cold. 

Oscar De La Hoya has donated $250,000 to Adventist Health White Memorial hospital in Los Angeles to aid in the cost of materials and services related to the Covid-19 virus. 

Amir Khan has offered the use of a four-story office building to the NHS in his native UK to treat Covid-19 patients. He has also pledged the equivalent of over $500K (USD) to his family's home country of Pakistan for use in their own battles with the virus.

Manny Pacquiao, allied with mega-wealthy Alibaba magnate Jack Ma, has donated tens of thousands of Covid-10 test kits to his native Philippines, medical supplies, and transportation services for healthcare workers in his country's battle with the deadly virus.

As previously mentioned in this column, former middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik is helping people get through these tough times in his own Youngstown, Ohio area.

The New York Boxing Hall of Fame and Ring 8, meanwhile, have created a fund to help boxers and boxing industry-related workers make ends meet during this forced layoff.

Down in Mexico, former two-division world champ Orlando Salido is donating his entire salary as deputy of the Sonora state legislature to area families in need. He has also purchased food and essential household items in bulk to be distributed to those in his hometown of Ciudad Obregon who currently find themselves out of work due to the worldwide health crisis.

Trainer Robert Garcia is giving gift cards to several families in need during this crisis.

Heavyweight contender Kubrat Pulev has pledged to donate half of his upcoming Anthony Joshua  purse to healthcare professionals to aid in the cost of equipment and materials needed for the fight against the virus. It's still up in the air, however, when that postponed Joshua title bout will actually take place.

Even Tyson Fury, in his own unique way, is helping out during these tough times. The WBC heavyweight champ has donated "tens of thousands of electrolyte water drinks" to aid NHS workers in his native UK.

And while all of the above is awesome and worthy of acknowledgment (and I'm sure there's more of this happening under my radar), it's also worth noting that there are a lot of fighters, promoters, and managers out there sitting on piles of cash who are NOT helping. 

Maybe they're scared about the uncertainty of these times, scared that they may have to live exclusively on their savings for the foreseeable future as this virus resists being wrangled. Lessons learned in life show that, usually, the rich and powerful stay rich and powerful by not extending hands too far beyond their reach. In other words, with no revenue coming in, they don't want to touch their own loot.

Whatever the case, though, it would be nice to see some more of this helping-humanity stuff from the boxing community-- especially considering how they became rich and powerful in the first place via support from the public.

As for me, I'm in day three of self-quarantine in the spare room atop my Mexican home base after having turned over heaven and earth to get back to my family in this mess. 

Up until this past Thursday, I was stuck in Chicago after having to renew my passport when all the lockdowns and quarantines were dropping. I couldn't find a flight back to my adopted hometown in the hills of Central Mexico. What I thought to be a 10-day vacation while pushing through an expedited passport renewal turned into a month of struggling to get home where I had brought in my 71-year-old mother to watch my nieces and nephew while I was away. 

The panic in me was real as I saw the Covid-19 virus spread throughout the U.S. and begin to leak through to Mexico. 

I know my gente here. The majority are warm, caring, and generous people. But the bad minority are REALLY bad and capable of some extreme level inhumanity. If the shit hit the fan down where I live and the word got out that the gigantic gringo with his well-stocked weapons cache was not there to defend a house full of food, water, and essential goods, people would be climbing through the window to get what they could get. A senior citizen, a 13-year-old boy and girls, ages 4, 8, and 10, would clearly be no deterrent. 

Luckily, I saw a small window of opportunity to get out of Dodge and I hightailed it back to my family.

And now I'm sitting here in isolation, waiting this out and hoping for the best. Oh yeah, and trying to figure out a way I can help in the relief effort, above and beyond churning out debatably distraction-friendly boxing content. 

We're all fighters to some extent. This site and this column may be devoted to the fighters who lace up the gloves and battle in the ring, but there's struggle everywhere. And, right now, the entire world is struggling in the same fight. 

All I can say at this moment is hang tough, be smart, and stay healthy. Beating this shit is just a matter of "when" and not "if" because humanity is strong. And here's hoping that this forced downtime and time for reflection helps us build things bigger and better when we make that Diego Corrales-like comeback. 

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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