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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: QUITTING BOXING

By Paul Magno | November 06, 2023
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: QUITTING BOXING

It seems like every few months some well-intentioned boxing writer publicly “retires” from the sport, publishing his emotional tale of no longer being able to tolerate the shittiness of all that surrounds boxing. 

“I love the sport of boxing, but everything terrible around it has made me miserable,” they write, presumably overcome by the unfairness of it all. 

Just this week, we “lost” another one. A good guy from the UK doing good stuff on his own blog. 

The loss of any good guys doing good things (in a world of bad guys doing bad things) is a negative. But a good soldier running from the battlefield because of his feelies is, to be blunt, probably an indication that he was not a good soldier to begin with. And, make no mistake about it, boxing media needs good soldiers.

For those who dismiss this media talk, let me make it clear that every suck-ass thing about boxing is allowed to flourish (and very often created) due to the absence of a real media covering the sport like real media should. Even if you’re one of those fans who “just wants to see two dudes fuck each other up,” you need to be cognizant of the fact that you’re not seeing the right dudes fucking each other up often enough, precisely because the media is not pushing the sport’s bossmen to make those ass-beatings you want.

What we have now in boxing media is nothing but public relations disguised as reporting. Just look around. What passes for journalism is 99.9% compromised, partisan info floated to reporters from promoters/managers/publicists and quotes culled from video interviews for the purpose of creating clickable CONTENT. And that 99.9% estimation is very generous.

In case you need to be told this, boxing writing is not a branch of journalism where knowledge of the subject matter, ability to write, critical thought, or even courage of one's own convictions matter. What one needs to get ahead or even stay afloat in this present tense media climate is the ability to draw the clicks of dullards and dimwits while serving as a useful promotional tool (i.e. convenient idiot) for the boxing businessmen who use media as an extension of their public relations department and, very often, flat-out own media sources.

What we’re getting every time we trudge our way in pursuit of real boxing enlightenment is shit. I’ve said this before, but it’s literally “let’s read the boxing websites to see what the promoters want us to know today.” 

I’m, personally, not the solution to any of our problems, although I’d like nothing more than to be part of a solution and a mass comeuppance for those dipshits assuming roles of journalism they have no intention of fulfilling. 

I’ve played a lot of roles over my 16 years or so doing this writing stuff. I’ve done some of the work I’d hope to see more of across the media. I’m very proud of that. I’m significantly less proud of my role in churning out shitty content in the style we see all around us. In some non-Fight Hype work, I’ve dabbled in clickbait and I’ve published the same utter nonsense I’ve berated others for. 

I did it because I needed to put food on my family’s table and because the “good” stuff I did never got anywhere, mostly because butt-hurt “colleagues,” who disapprove of me covering media matters and naming names, have frozen me out of gigs and freelance opportunities. I decided before I started this writing journey that I’d only do this as a full-time job and not as a hobby. If something is important, it needs to be treated with the urgency of a “real” job. 

Well, that urgency brought me to a shitty place. I acknowledge that. I own that. 

I also did my worst work because, for a good, long time, I just didn’t care about adding more bullshit to the dung heap. Nobody else seemed to care, so why should I?

It gets fucking lonely out here, shaking fists at injustices and, as a media insider once condescendingly told me, “shooting spitballs at battleships.” Being ostracized, marginalized, and in constant search of money also doesn’t help, especially while shit heads (who very often are compromised themselves) make claims that you’re “on the take” or “getting that bag.”  

In a 2018 article in The Atlantic, journalist Dick Polman wrote a piece about the burnt out remnants of gonzo journalist and counterculture firebrand Hunter S. Thompson who, by the early 80’s, had lost nearly all of his mojo and existed as a caricature of his former self.

“To keep writing angry, damn-you stuff can drive you mad,” Polman asserted. 

And, yeah, I definitely felt that way. Although, unlike with Thompson, nobody really cared about me having lost myself. The boxing media certainly wasn’t mourning the loss of the asshole who made fun of how ridiculously self-important they were as comfortable middle class hobbyists slumming in the fight world. 

But through it all-- on my road as the writer I wanted to be and to the detour in becoming the hypocrite I felt I needed to be (and, sometimes, both simultaneously), I never quit. That’s a point of pride for me.

And I don’t plan on quitting anytime soon. Sorry, press pass crew. 

It can be daunting to immerse yourself in a world you once idealized and romanticized, only to see what a shit hole it is. There’s a reason those who work at sausage factories often don’t enjoy eating sausages anymore.

Well, then, I guess I’m just that sick fuck who works in the ugliest, bloodiest area of the sausage factory, but still enjoys a half-pound of breakfast links before coming to work. 

These last few months, as things have gotten worse for me in so many ways (including a serious illness), I’ve become revitalized when it comes to my work. The loss of my shitty gigs that only wanted CONTENT has probably helped in that regard. Kudos to the Boxingscene folks, by the way, for the insane level of steadfast self-denial that goes into churning out more and more “Eddie Hearn says” articles. That kind of assembly line work turns a feeling man into a mental case. Some of those guys must have the steely cold continence only found in sweat shop laborers and serial killers. Fuck, why did I say that? Now, I’ll never get a gig there when Paramount shuts them down and they actually have to rely on people who can generate traffic for their revenue!

Oh well. 

Seriously, though. If you dedicate yourself to a life in boxing-- whether as a fighter, a businessman or as a writer-- you’re most likely not going to get out of it what you put into it. You’ll always come up short in the end. And, when it comes to the good vs. evil shit, you’ll never win that battle either (unless you’re evil). 

In boxing media, specifically, the shit heads tweeting pics of their press passes and “just happy to be there” will always outnumber those who actually care. A sane human being will always have to wade through absurdity. You are doomed if you actually expect your rage against the machine to result in anything more than fleeting, momentary semi-victories. That’s probably why those who “succeed” in boxing media DON’T rage against the machine and actually crave to be a PART of it.

It takes a special breed of thick-skinned, fatalistic, war-minded asshole to keep fighting the good fight in this business. It takes someone who may not necessarily be suicidal, but someone who is also not averse to dying for a good cause. It takes someone who accepts that, maybe, the best they can do is plant a seed of truth that may or may not become a tree of knowledge that they will, almost assuredly, not be around to enjoy. 

When I do “quit” boxing and/or boxing writing-- and that day may come in 20 years or 20 hours-- it’ll be on my own terms and not because I can’t deal with what boxing is and has always been. I do love the sport THAT much. 

Until then, I’ll continue to be a living, breathing “Fuck You” to all the bullshit and bullshit people in and around this boxing world-- including myself when I find myself straying. 

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

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