Many people know me as a Formula one fan. My father especially weaponize my love of Formula one at any opportunity he gets. However, I am not just a Formula one fan or afficionado. I love sports in general, but I do not think I have a fever pitch love of sports. I love sports because it provides me an avenue to observe human beings in an undisturbed manner. In every sport, there is a human aspect the casual observer fails to see. Most athletes go through a rigorous preparation before any event. Like Abba (Swedish Rock group) sings the winner takes it all, and the loser usually feel small. However, it is not the point of this post. I am hoping to get to it in the next paragraph.
The heavyweight division is the best in boxing, but it is not an ordained fact. The heavyweight division has been the best division through the years because of the talent and the work everyone involved in the division put in day in and day out. Sure, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquaio made the lighter weight division exciting, but the heavyweight division is still the best division. The list of champions in the heavyweight division always excites me. From Muhammad Ali to Mike Tyson and Tyson Fury at present, these are names that will be remembered for the ages. Many may agree with me, while many may not. I will attempt to explain my reasoning.
By the time I was born Muhammad Ali was on the decline. I never got to see in real time Muhammad Ali in his prime. I saw videos of his epic fights (Ali-Frasier trilogy, the rumble in the jungle) but I studied the Louisville slugger’s career. He did not the brut force of Gearge Foreman and Sonny Liston, but he was a technical boxer and it gave him a chance of victory against many opponent. He showcased his talent when he first defeated Sonny Liston with relative ease in their first fight. Most people focused on Ali’s jab. I focused on his head movements. Ali had superb head movements and his head movements made him a hard target. His second fight with Sonny Liston was more categorical in their second encounter. Ali had prepared diligently for both fight while Sonny Liston perhaps relied more on his brute force. American politics robbed boxing of some of Ali’s prime years, but Ali carried on in the 70’s with the rumble in the jungle and the Ali Frazier trilogy. These two fights may have taken their toll on Ali, but they cemented his legacy. Ali’s contemporaries were no pushover either. George Foreman was the scariest of Ali’s contemparies. However, Ali defeated George Foreman in the rumble in the jungle when many were writing Ali’s obituary. Eventually time defeated Ali, but Ali was floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee when he ruled boxing. Then Mike Tyson came into boxing and this period was an interesting period. Many believed Mike Tyson was just a brut force fighter, but he was more complex than he met the eye. Mike was athletic. Mike Tyson was scary and powerful, but Mike Tyson was a technically sound boxer. Most people focused on his punching power, but his strengths were his head movements and his ability to make combination of punches. Mike Tyson was of short stature unlike Muhammad Ali. Mike Tyson is listed at 5′ 10” and some change while Ali was listed at 6′ 3”. Another Tyson’s strength was in closing the gap to his opponent. His fight usually did not go the whole twelve round because he chopped his opponent like a lumberjack cutting a tree. His combinations were good and his defense was second to none. He had the respect of his peers (Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield). In the end Mike Tyson lost the hunger he had in his career and left boxing. Yes, the Klitschko dominated boxing for a couple of decade, but the new exciting star of boxing is Tyson Fury. Tyson Fury towers boxing at 6′ 9″, and his mobility is amazing. His trilogy with Deontay Wilder is what legends are made off. His humanity has made him an endearing giant. He recently revealed his mental struggle and it humanized him very much. Tyson Fury has struggled with bi-polar disorder, alcohol and drug abuse but he has defeated his demons and striving as a heavyweight.
There is more to boxing than a couple of guys beating each other in a ring for a crowd’s entertainment. I learned how George Foreman punched himself out against Ali, and became a preacher, an inventor and good businessman. Mike Tyson went from a troubled teen to a motivational speaker. Muhammad Ali became a civil right icon and an inspiration to many. Boxing has showed aspects of humanity at its best and its worst.