Symptom of What Ails Boxing in Minnesota

This article was contributed by a knowledgeable and involved individual who doesn’t want to name names or reveal more information than is included below by disclosing their own identity.  But there’s at least a grain of truth (and probably more) in what this person writes.  That’s why, with their permission, I’ve decided to share it with you.

Call it what you want….i.e. poor judgement, overreaction, punitive, abuse of power, or all of the above.  Any and all of those words might legitimately describe a situation which recently came to my attention concerning an amateur boxing coach and a gym owner.

The coach apparently committed a faux pas by expressing that he was tired of this gym owner’s arrogance.  The coach allegedly offered his opinion in private and intended it to stay private.  The gym owner seemingly over reacted and barred the coach from the gym!  When and if the coach is allowed to return to the gym is apparently up to the gym owner.  It would seem the coach has no rights or recourse in the matter?  What of the coach’s fighters?  What are they to do?  Should they go to another gym, or stay and be forced to work with another coach?

Of course there’s always two or more sides to every situation, but it would seem that the coach’s only offense was that he hurt the gym owner’s pride.  Sounds like a personal problem, right?  It would be nice to waive off this situation by dismissing it as unique and categorizing it as an exception to the usual goings on in our amateur boxing program.  But, unfortunately it probably is not and might be symptomatic of a larger problem.

For example, it’s relatively easy to find evidence of how pride and jealousy get in the way of a healthy amateur boxing program.  Check around and ask boxers how difficult it is for them to get fights?  Why?  Fighters, when asked, will shrug in disappointment and say they don’t know why?  Then they learn about the animosity some gym owners have for each other.  They see the jealousy and back biting.  They soon see what appears to be deliberate attempts by some gym owners to sabotage others by doing such things as scheduling sanctioned bouts in conflict with each other.  As a result, fighters fall victim to the tyranny.  Soon they realize they’re not even going to be able to get decent sparring, let alone fights.  They become discouraged and drop out of amateur boxing.  At that point you would think gym owners would recognize the problem and try to remedy it, but instead they place blame on the aspiring young boxers and criticize them for lacking dedication and desire!

If you want further evidence that there might be a problem, look at the most recent results of some of the regional championships, and note how many fighters backed into the UM Tournament with “walk-overs”.  It doesn’t require much thought to realize these fighters suffer because of the lack of competition.  It’s not their fault.  All they want to do is box and gain the experience necessary to develop their skills, but they are forced to endure the consequences of these arrogant attitudes.  The problem isn’t that youthful prospects aren’t coming through the gym doors.  It’s that they are going right back out, because they become discouraged and disillusioned.  Even the ones who manage to stick around for a while eventually decide to drop out of boxing because their dreams aren’t being realized.  Or, worse yet, out of frustration they decide to turn pro before they are ready.

As far as the gym owners are concerned, they fail to realize that it’s inevitable for every one of their arrogant actions there is a reaction or urge to retaliate.  When that happens, the spirit of cooperation is lost in the dirt that is stirred up.  There’s little doubt this behavior or misbehavior is a contributing factor to what ails the sport locally.  These people, who are in positions of authority, need to swallow their pride, settle their petty differences, act reasonably, and once again put the interest of the amateur boxers ahead of their own.

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before the fall.” (Proverbs 16: 17-18)

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One response to “Symptom of What Ails Boxing in Minnesota

  1. This reminds me of a piece you wrote not too long ago about a promoter getting in touch with you before you even ran an article. For a sport that settles its differences in the ring, outside the ring it seems that MN coaches, gym owners, promoters just can’t seem to settle differences and the focus becomes on sabotaging the other. Why that is, amazes me. The sport in MN doesn’t seem to be big enough to warrant that kind of behavior, but it’s big enough that it could be something more if the pettiness is put behind.

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