In no other sport is the narrative of good versus evil played out as endlessly as it is in professional boxing. The individualistic nature of the sport makes it necessary to have a distinction between good and bad. Of course many of these perceptions are pure theater. In most instances these stereotypes are perpetuated simply to promote big fights and bring in big money.
Even still, regardless of the capitalist and corrupt underbelly of the sport, boxing has always had more than its fair share of ‘bogey men’ who seem to wield disproportionate amounts of power and influence.
Whereas boxers put their faith in the relatively simple plan of winning fights with their fists to put food on the table and titles around their waists, promoters and managers are more cunning, and at times deceitful, in their rapacious pursuit of profit. The means they will employ to achieve their desired ends are often concealed, their agendas hidden in a complex maze of half truths and equivocations that are hard to comprehend with casual thought.
Yet if you scratch beneath the surface and study the landscape of the sport, it is unsettling to discover just how omnipotent boxing’s new bogey man Al Haymon really is.
At least we knew what we were dealing with the old school of Don King, whose obnoxious cabaret of greed and self indulgence was on display, in clear view to everyone. Al Haymon is the new breed of manager who shuns the spotlight like an albino vampire- to call him shadowy is an understatement. In this saturated age of images and social media sites everyone wants to be seen and heard, yet Al Haymon is never seen nor heard: there is only one picture of him online!
Some call him the silent partner of prizefighting, others insists he is the masked pariah intent on ruining the sport. Although with the loyal roster of fighters he ‘represents’ reputed to run into the hundreds, it is beyond debate that he is the most powerful man in boxing. He is the hand that feeds us the scandalous diet of mismatches that malnourish the sport and starves the fans of the best fights between the biggest names.
His rise to prominence- which culminated in him winning the 2013 Al Buck Award (Manager of the Year) from the Boxing Writers Association of America– has coincided with the worrying trend of fight cards featuring the best boxers of a certain weight class fighting sacrificial lambs when they should be competing against each other.
He targets the weak and feeds the frail to his star fighters, and in return he receives an almost cultish reverence from his clients. Aside from the fact that his match making policy deprives the sport of meaningful fights, it also endangers the health of some boxers such as Rod Salka, an unranked lightweight, who had no business being in the same ring as Danny Garcia, a two time world champion in the weight class above Salka.
In this particular battle against good versus evil the lifeblood of boxing is at stake. Desperate times call for desperate measures, something radical needs to be done to prevent the pervasive influence of boxing’s bogeyman Al Haymon destroying what little purity there is let in pugilism.
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