It is easy to overlook Stephen Brunt’s essay on boxing in this weekend’s Globe and Mail (Requiem for boxing: the decline of the Sweet Science). You’d be missing out on very fine writing if you did. Brunt is one of the top writers at the Globe as it is, and he is never better than when he is writing about boxing. What makes it better still is that he is writing about the decline of something he clearly loves. Even if you are uninterested in boxing, you can appreciate it for the thought and feel and craft he brings to it.
As for me, I remember being very young and watching the three Ali-Frasier fights. I saw most of Ali’s bouts, and lots of other boxing as well, but nothing left as big an impression on me as watching those fights did. When Brunt describes how Frasier literally wanted to kill Ali in the ring, that does not surprise me. The toughness, the ferocity, and the excellence that both men brought to each fight was breathtaking. Arguably some of the greatest sporting events of the 20th century.
Brunt reference a great painting by Bellows of the Dempsey vs Firpo fight. Here it is: